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Medical Library 
8 The Fenway 



VOL. I. 
















VOL. T. 


IJubüsbcrs in (Oioiuurij to fjer llUicstn tlje ^^ticeit 

All rights reserved 



This unpretending work is intended as a tribute of 
well-deserved affection. 

Dr. Helfer was a young Austrian physician and 
natiu-alist, who, between the years 1830 and 1840, was 
impelled by an irresistible love of exploration and 
research to leave his country and travel in the East, 
until he met his death by the poisoned arrow of a 
savage off the Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal. 
Dr. Helfee had furnished reports to the East India 
Company, which were written and printed in English, 
on his observations in India, particularly in the Tenas- 
serim provinces, the Peninsula of Malacca, the Mergui 
Archipelago, and the Andaman Islands. They were 
afterwards translated into German by Count Mar- 
schall, in 1860, for the Imperial Geographical Society 
of Vienna. Most of his journals were unfortunately lost 
by shipwreck ; only a small portion of them appears 
in these volumes. 

Countess Pauline Nostitz, however, is the spirited 
and adventurous lady, who, then the wife of Dr. Helfer, 

vi Pre/ace. 

accompanied him in all his travels, and in these pages 
she now erects a monument over the grave of her first 
husband, the naturalist, who fell a victim to his ardent 
pursuit of knowledge. 

This memoir and autobiography derives increased 
interest from the exciting narrative of the Euphrates 
Expedition, under the late General, then Colonel 
Chesney, in which Helfer and his wife took part, as 
well as from the graphic and hvely descriptions of the 
life of Oriental women, into the mysteries of which a 
lady traveller could obtain glimpses denied to a man. 

We are therefore grateful to the Countess for not 
having longer withheld the memoirs of a meritorious 
Austrian naturahst and traveller, with whose destiny, 
during a series of eventful years, her own was bound 
up, and we doubt not that the public will welcome a 
work which contains so much that is instructive and 

Ferdinand von Hochstetter. 

VusjSTNA : July 1872. 




Many were the exhortations that reached me, after 
my return from India, to pubhsh my travels. Not only 
friends and acquaintances, but magnates in the scientific 
world, among whom were Alexander von Humboldt, 
and Karl Eitter, the latter publicly in his ' Geography,' 
have repeatedly urged me to give them to the world. 

But for long years I could not bring my mind to 
arrange my notes. Profound sadness overcame me 
whenever I took the pages in hand which carried me 
back to the past. The melancholy end obscured the 
bright scenes with which these memories are interwoven, 
and, sad at heart, I laid them aside again. 

There was, moreover, another reason for the delay. 
My husband promised Colonel Chesney, Commander 
of the Euphrates Expedition in 1835-6, not to pubhsh 
any report of it until he had published his own. But 
our share in the Expedition formed far too essential a 
part of our adventures to be omitted from the story of 
them. It was not, therefore, until Chesney 's ' Narrative 
of the Euphrates Expedition' appeared in 1868, that I 
felt released from that promise, and in a situation, by 
the publication of the following sketches of my beloved 
husband's life and travels, to raise a monument to him 

viii Preface by Cottntess Patiline Nostitz. 

after his own heart, and at the same time to solace my- 
self by the fulfilment of a sacred duty. 

The results of my husband's researches, which 
would have so greatly enriched science, are unfortu- 
nately lost. The greater part of his writings on Syria 
went down with the steamer Tigris in the Euphrates ; 
a second portion disappeared on its way to Europe, 
whither it was to have been conveyed in safety. All 
that remains in his handwriting is a short extract from 
his diary, kept during the voyage down the Euphrates, 
three scientific reports on the Tenasserim provinces 
and Malacca, and a number of botanical and entomo- 
logical notes, but in so concise and unconnected a form, 
that they could only have been deciphered by himself 
by the aid of his excellent memory. What I have 
myself stated in these pages on the various races of 
Syria, their manners and mode of life is mainly based 
on cursory observations in the apartments of the 
Oriental women, to which I had free access. 

The chief interest of the narrative of the voyage to 
India, and our residence there and in British Burmah, 
lies not so much in the descriptions of those countries, 
as in our personal adventures. 

Although my notes can scarcely form an essential 
contribution to geography or ethnology, I hope that 
this unpretending and faithful narrative of destinies and 
modes of hfe, not of every-day occurrence, may awaken 
sufficient interest in the travellers, even amongst those 
unknown to me, to ensure it an indulgent reception. 

Countess Pauline Nostitz, 


It may at first sight appear that the distance of time 
at which these travels were undertaken must detract 
from their interest : but it has also some advantages, 
as it renders them to some extent historical, and has 
prevented too much detail in the record of them. 
Travelling in some parts of the East was also of course 
far more adventurous, especially for a lady, forty years 
ago than it is now. The date, however, must be borne 
in mind by the reader; manners and customs have 
doubtless changed among the English in India, as 
elsewhere, and on some other subjects the state of 
things is very different from what it was then. More, 
for instance, is known of the Karens, and probably 
Christianity has spread to a wider extent among the 
Burmese than the authoress thought likely, although 
I believe missionaries have not found Burmah a very 
promising field« 

The original work closed with Dr. Heifer's death, 
at the end of Chapter VII. of Vol. II. After the pub- 
lication of it, the authoress was induced by the warm 
interest her narrative had excited in Germany, and the 
repeated solicitations of many friends, to publish, last year, 

VOL. I. a 

Note by the Traiislator. 

a small volume as a sequel, giving a sketch of her expe- 
riences after her husband's death. This forms part of 
the present translation, from Chapter VIII. of Vol. II. to 
the end, as it was thought that those who had followed 
the fortunes of the authoress thus far could not fail to 
be interested in learning something of her subsequent 





I. Youth ajtd Sitjdent Years 1 

II. From Prague to Smyrna. 16 

III. Residence at Smyrna -.37 

IV. Through Beyrout to Latakieh 66 

V. Journey to Aleppo and Bieejik . . . . . i)5 

VI. Excursion to the Salt Lake El-Malak . . . J^^^i 

VII. With the English Euphrates ]^]xpedition, under 

Colonel Ohesney 180 




Johann Wilhelm Helfer was born at Prague on tlie 
5tli of February 1810. He was gifted with an active 
mind and an extraordinary memory, and, even in child- 
hood, showed a special taste for the study of nature. 
Instead of joining in the sports of his companions, the 
boy occupied himself, in the spacious grounds and 
gardens of his parents' house, with the observation of 
plants and animals. In watching the various charac- 
teristics of the latter he would amuse himself for hours 
together. The most minute beetles attracted his special 
attention — a taste which he preserved through life. 
From his ninth year he collected beetles and butterflies, 
and arranged them systematically. 

In the diary which he even then kept with con- 
scientious punctuality, those were red-letter days on 
which he had been successful in collecting. He 
invented methods of his own of collecting the smallest 
beetles, scarcely visible to the naked eye, from the 

VOL. I. B 

Syria and British Burmah. 

shrubs and flowers, and of sifting and washing them 
from the decaying vegetation in the plantations. He 
was soon very expert at it, and surpassed his older 

As he belonged to a family in good circumstances, 
he was allowed to cultivate his taste for music and 
modern languages. Music was a pleasant companion 
to him through life, and his fine voice and melodious 
phantasies on the piano made him everywhere welcome ; 
while his unusual talent for languages was afterwards 
of great service to him on his travels. 

At sixteen, he began his studies at the University 
of Prague. He devoted himself to medicine, the auxili- 
ary branches of which accorded with his tastes, though 
he had an aversion to the calling of a practising 
physician. Even in his studies he followed his own 
devices : it was impossible to him to attend the academic 
lectures regularly ; monotony of every kind paralysed 
his mind and repressed his energy. For weeks together 
he sometimes neglected to attend the lectures, thereby 
incurring the severe censure of the professors ; but he 
afterwards surprised them by passing a brilliant exami- 
nation, having more than made up for what he had 
lost by diligent private study. The vacations were 
devoted to botanical and entomological excursions in 
Bohemia and the adjoining countries. 

Notwithstanding his aversion to the practice of 
medicine, he resolved, after his academic studies were 
finished, to attend cHnical lectures at the most celebrated 
hospitals ; for which purpose in 1830 he went to Vienna. 
Before this, however, he attended a meeting of German 

Youth and Student Years. 

naturalists at Hamburg. Still very young, and in no 
way entitled to enter the circle of savans as a Member 
of the Society, he succeeded, through friends, in making 
acquaintance with the most eminent men in his depart- 
ment — a piece of good fortune to which he often 
recurred with pleasure. 

Many passages in his diary show that he was much 
occupied with the idea of travels in remote regions. 
But, singularly enough, forebodings of his fate are 
mingled with his projects. Thus on the 30th of Janu- 
ary 1830, transplanted in imagination to Calcutta, and 
revelling in the idea of penetrating into the unexplored 
regions of India, he wrote in prophetic mood : ' But 
why draw aside the veil of futurity ? What is for my 
good will be allotted to me. Who knows, when I yield 
to the delight of dreaming of travelling in India as 
a naturalist, whether I might not start back in alarm if 
the future were unveiled to me ? ' 

His forebodings were only too surely fulfilled : — on 
that very day ten years, his love of research was the 
cause of his early and violent death. 

The visit to Hamburg had a decisive influence on 
his after hfe in another respect. A curious combination 
of circumstances led to my first meeting with him. He 
who acknowledges a belief in a Hand that guides our 
destinies, will not fail to trace it in our involuntary 
meeting. Others may see only chance in it ; however 
that may be, it gave an undeniable direction to our lives. 

When Heifer, on his return from Hamburg^ to 
Prague, was about to enter the diligence at Berlin 
which went through Herzberg and Elsterwerda to 

B 2 

Syria and British Btcrmah. 

Dresden, he found all the seats occupied by the natural- 
ists returning to Southern Germany. His hohdays 
were at an end, he could not wait a day, and therefore 
resolved to take another dihgence, which, in those days, 
when there were no high roads in that region, took its 
tedious way, twice a week, through the sands of Lusatia, 
by way of Baruth and Luckau to Dresden. On that 
day I was intending to go, by the same opportunity, to 
visit a friend at Dresden. A letter from my friend, 
postponing my visit, had been lost while we were on a 
tour — the only one which we had missed. Thus, owing 
to there being no room in the diligence at Berlin and 
the lost letter. Heifer and I, whose different positions 
and family circumstances would otherwise scarcely have 
made an acquaintance possible, met on our journey. 

I first saw Heifer's youthful and attractive form in 
the passengers' room in the little town of Sonnenwald, 
where I was waiting, with my escort, for the diligence 
from Luckau. When we got in, he gave me the front 
seat, which he had previously occupied, and took his 
seat opposite to me. 

The natural effect of a diligence dragging wearily 
through the sand is either to send the passengers to 
sleep or to make them beguile the time as best they 
can. We chose the latter, and preferred to walk 
rather than be jolted over the roots of trees through 
an endless heath covered with firs ; and thus, wading 
in the sand and beneath the scanty shade of the stunted 
trees, we began the journey of life together, which was 
to end amidst the luxuriant verdure and under the 
palms of the tropics. 

Youth and Student Years. 

Our conversation soon turned on Heifer's favourite 
scliemes. Full of the impressions received at Hamburg-, 
lie spoke enthusiastically of projects of travel for the 
future, to which I listened with all the more attention, 
because from childhood I had always felt the greatest 
interest in foreign lands, and travels were my favourite 
reading. Youthful enthusiasm for his pursuits lent a 
peculiar charm to Heifer's almost girlish appearance. 
I was greatly interested in his conversation, so different 
from that of most young men of his age. I felt a 
sympathetic curiosity as to whether his schemes would 
ever be fulfilled. When I expressed this interest, 
flattered by the attention with which I had listened to 
him, he begged permission to inform me from time to 
time of what happened to him, which I readily granted. 

Amidst this talk Dresden was reached, where we 
took a friendly leave, as Heifer immediately continued 
his journey to Prague. I little thought that this 
fleeting travelling acquaintance, to which I attached 
scarcely any importance, would have such lasting- 
results, and was all the more agreeably surprised when, 
after some little time, I received Heifer's first letter. 
He told me that he was going to Vienna to continue 
his studies in practical medicine. But, accustomed to 
employ every leisure moment in entomological ex- 
cursions, and not finding much booty in the neigh- 
bourhood of Vienna, he left it before long to finish 
his studies at Pa via. His talent for languages soon 
enabled him to graduate in Italian. In November 
1832, the faculty there bestowed on him the degree of 
Doctor of Medicine and Surgery. 

6 Syria and British Btirmah. 

Like a bird escaped from a cage, he rejoiced to be 
released from scholastic fetters. He longed to go 
southwards, where he expected to reap a rich harvest 
for his studies and collections. The funds at his dis- 
posal did not allow of any extensive projects, but he 
would not at any price give up his newly-acquired 
liberty ; he therefore declined an offer at Milan to 
accompany a wealthy English family as travelling phy- 
sician, and set out alone. Passing through Genoa, 
Pisa, Florence, and Eome, in January 1833 he arrived 
at Naples. 

After a short stay there he sailed for Palermo, where 
he was very kindly received by the Austrian Consul, 
and proceeded to Malta. Here he made acquaintance 
with John Morgan Leader, Esq., who took a great 
liking to him and invited him to join his travelling 
party, which consisted of artists and antiquarians. 
Heifer returned with them to Sicily. There the young 
men spent a highly enjoyable time together. Heifer 
also gave himself for a time to social pleasures, but 
never lost sight of the graver purposes of his life. 

During this Italian journey a regular correspond- 
ence was kept up between us, which, as Heifer's diaries 
show, was not without a beneficial influence on him. 
His glowing descriptions of Southern Italy were 
received with the greatest interest by me, and my 
sympathy with his aims and projects acted as a spur to 
him to carry them out and as a preservative against 
the allurements by which he was siu-rounded. 

His means did not allow of his remaining longer 
abroad, and as he did not choose to be dependent on 

YoiUh and Student Years. 

Mr. Leader, they parted as warm friends. He did not, 
however, refuse a challenge from him to accompany 
him the next year on a voyage to South America, 
for his doubts as to his vocation for the practice of 
medicine had increased. 

After a short excursion to the island of Pantellaria 
and the north coast of Africa, Heifer left Palermo on 
the 31st of July 1833, laden with ample collections. 
He landed at Marseilles, and did not take the direct 
route home from Paris, but came to pay me a visit at 
Dieppe, where I was then staying. During the three 
years of our acquaintance we had kept up a constant 
correspondence, but had only once been permitted to 
meet for a fortnight. His life was in great danger on 
his way to Dieppe. The heavy French diligence, on 
which he had taken an outside seat, was overturned 
and Heifer was thrown on the paved road and received 
a severe wound in his forehead. He arrived at Dieppe 
with his head bound up, but so far recovered that 
nothing interfered with the pleasure of our meeting. 

Unfortunately it only lasted for a few days. Heifer 
received letters from home recalling him immediately. 
Family circumstances had occurred, which required 
that he should be declared of age and assume the 
guardianship of his younger brothers and sisters. 
These events also made a sudden change in his pro- 
spects. His duties required that he should reside at 
Prague, and he saw that he must settle there and 
practise as a physician. 

The greater his antipathy to this calling, the more 
urgently he felt the need of endearing his home by 

8 Syria and British Burmah, 

domestic happiness, and of finding in it a substitute for 
the wishes he had renounced. No one, in his opinion, 
could confer this happiness on him but myself, who 
had shown so much sympathy with his aspirations. 

In the spring of 1834 he opened his heart to me 
by letter, and prayed me to be his companion for life. 
I was long in making up my mind, for I foresaw that 
sooner or later Heifer's love of travel would assert 
itself, and I did not wish in that case to be an obstacle. 
I therefore at first dechned his suit, while I encouraged 
him not to lose sight of his special aims in life. But I 
must confess that this duty, as 1 thought it, required 
great self-command. I loved and esteemed the suitor, 
and to be united to him was my heart's desire. 

• But Heifer was not to be repulsed. Sure of my 
afiection, he persuaded me that I was necessary to his 
happiness ; so I consented, and our marriage was cele- 
brated in June 1834, at Dresden. 

After a considerable stay with my mother and 
brothers and sisters, whose afiection Heifer quickly 
gained, he took me to his charming home. Its 
arrangements were just to my taste — elegant and com- 
fortable, but not luxurious. I was as happy as I could 
be in this pleasant little home, and devoted myself to 
it heart and soul. I thought I had run into port for 

Heifer's practice soon became considerable, and he 
had the pleasure of success in many a difficult case. 
But experience of it only increased his dishke to the 
medical profession. At the same time he began to feel 
that Prague, attached as he was to his native land, was 

Youth arid Student Years, 

not tlie soil in which his mental powers could thrive. 
There was a spirit of caste, which was an embargo on 
all free social intercourse. Even the scientific men 
had no acquaintance beyond their official intercourse. 

Sucli a life was opposed to all Heifer's intellectual 
requirements. It was impossible for him to endure it 
long ; but, tied by twofold duties, he tried to conceal 
his feelings. His secret discontent, however, did not 
escape the eyes of a loving wife : I observed that in 
unguarded moments a shade of melancholy beclouded 
his naturally cheerful countenance, and it caused me 
no little anxiety. 

During the early days of marriage a wife is only 
too ready to imagine that every uneasiness in her hus- 
band concerns herself and is a symptom of waning 
affection. For a long time I sought in vain to discover 
the cause of his depression. He evaded my questions, 
and would not allow that he was concealing anything 
from me. But at last, seeing that I was hurt by his 
silence and that my cheerfulness was faihng me, he 
gave vent to his feelings, and exclaimed, ' I cannot 
endure the fatal constraint of the life here. I long to 
be out in the world and in the country.' 

As Lot's wife, driven from her home by angels of 
wrath, was turned into a pillar of salt when she turned 
and beheld the destruction of all her soul had delighted 
in, so for a moment did I stand petrified and speechless 
when I saw the quiet, cosy, domestic life, which had 
become so endeared to me, in ruins. A future of end- 
less wandering opened before my eyes. I was certain 
that only in this would Heifer find satisfaction ; and at 

lo Syria and B7ntish Burmah. 

the same moment I resolved that his longings should 
be gratified. I would accompany him on his travels. 

It was a happy thing for me that the elasticity 
with which nature had endowed me made the sudden 
revulsion more easy to me, and that the comforts of 
our pleasant home had not extinguished my own desire 
to see the world. I was able to answer at once, with 
a smile, ' Well, then, let us travel.' 

It was Heifer's turn to be astonished now. ' What ! ' 
he exclaimed, ' would you really leave your native land 
and follow me on arduous journeys ? ' ' Why not ? ' I 
replied. ' You know that I am as fond of travelling as 
you are. I should hke far better to see the world than 
to be buried here in the monotony of everyday life.' 
He still hesitated to accept the sacrifice, as he called it, 
and it was only when I playfully reminded him that 
our first acquaintance had been made on a journey, 
and assured him that an adventurous hfe was also to 
my taste, that with beaming looks he agreed to it. We 
resolved to leave Prague, and travel together in distant 
lands. When, and whither ? To America, Africa, or 
Asia ? These were the next questions, considered as 
cheerfully as if we had been discussing a party of 

Heifer's preference for Asia, which had been so 
little explored, the land of his youthful dreams, carried 
the day. A totally different direction having been 
laughingly given to our lives in the course of a few 
minutes, we now devoted our attention to the project, 
and the mode of carrying it out, with all the serious- 
ness which it demanded. 

Youth and Student Years. 1 1 

His idea was to acquaint himself thoroughly with 
particular parts of the world and to turn them to 
account for his collections, which would require con- 
siderable sojourns in one place. Then he did not wish, 
if possible, to diminish his patrimony by so costly an 
undertaking as a journey in the East : he wished to 
acquire means for it by turning his medical knowledge 
to account. According to European notions, this was 
a singular idea, but a plan by no means impracticable 
in the East, where a hakim enjoys the greatest respect 
and is welcomed everywhere. The staff of Esculapius 
is a better weapon for the European traveller, a greater 
protection, and a more effectual aid in difficulties, than 
the best revolver or the most ample means. 

Heifer thought Smyrna the most suitable place to 
gain a footing on the soil of Asia. He could acclimatise 
himself in this half European, half Asiatic city — trans- 
form himself into a semi- Asia tic, — ^and then, if fortune 
favoured, penetrate farther eastward. 

JSTo sooner was this plan settled, than we proceeded 
to carry it out. 

The management of the family affairs, as well as of 
his own property. Heifer deputed to a legal friend ; and 
thus released from all ties of duty, he could devote all 
his energies to preparation for the journey. 

I had the pain of parting from my beloved mother 
and brothers and sisters before me, and of course 
wished, before so long a separation, to see them again. 

Although Heifer dreaded my mother's disapproval 
of our plans, he readily accompanied me to her estate 
of Zinnitz, in Lusatia. He was agreeably surprised to 

12 Syria and British Burmah, 

find that she not only did not oppose our project, but 
even encouraged us to carry it out. 

My mother, no doubt, felt the parting painful, but 
she did not let us see it. Endowed with a strength of 
mind seldom given to our sex, and, with all her affection 
for her children, having always kept up a lively interest 
in passing events and the world at large, she forgot the 
temporary grief in her interest in Heifer's schemes. 
She followed us already in thought into unknown 
regions, and often became so deeply engrossed in it that 
the present was forgotten. 

Heifer employed our stay at Zinnitz in carefully 
testing the successful homoeopathic treatment of our 
medical man. Although he was, from his medical 
studies, an allopathist, he perceived the great advan- 
tage of homoeopathy for countries where there are no 
druggists, or only bad ones, and where the most 
skilled allopathist is often powerless from want of the 
necessary medicaments. Having convinced himself of 
the efficacy of homoeopathic treatment, he studied it 
thoroughly, provided himself with a complete stock of 
homoeopathic medicines, and thus enabled himself to 
treat the sick without the druggist — an invaluable 
power in the East, to which we were afterwards 
much indebted. 

Accompanied by my good mother's blessing, we 
went first to Berlin, whither I had been summoned by 
the Princess Marianne, Consort of Prince Wilham, 
brother of Frederic William HI., that I might introduce 
my husband to her. I had had the pleasure, as a young 
girl, of receiving great kindness from this lady, who 

Youth mid Student Years, 13 

was equally distinguished by goodness of heart and 
mental endowments. I had had the privilege of spend- 
ing many morning hours with her alone in her boudoir, 
and owe much to her stimulating influence. She 
showed the greatest interest in our plans of travel. 
I had to engage to send her reports from time to time 
and especially to give her the results of my persona- 
observations on the condition of Christians in the East 

I also took leave of another no less distinguished 
lady in Berlin — Madame Levy, who, I am proud to 
say, had been a motherly friend to me. Her inter- 
course with the distinguished men from far and near, 
who met at her house, had kept her mind bright up to 
a late age. In order to forward our project she gave 
us an introduction to her sister, the Baroness Eskeles, at 
Vienna, which, in many cases, was a real talisman to us. 

This interest shown in our plans by estimable people 
could not fail to encourage us. We hastened back to 
Prague and made our preparations with great energy. 
As we intended to settle for a considerable time at 
Smyrna, we thought it desirable to take with us all 
portable articles for housekeeping. 

In the arduous task of packing these I was assisted 
by my faithful Lotty — a servant such as I wish every 
household possessed, especially every newly-founded 
one. Brisk and active, she performed her duties amidst 
singing and laughter. She surprised me one morning 
with a chest packed in the night, as she said she could 
not bear to see me troubling myself with it. 

One day I . observed with astonishment that she 
was packing up her own things too. When asked about 

14 Syria and British Burniah. 

it, she declared modestly, but firmly, that she was going 
with us, whether we would or not. This was unex- 
pected. How could I have imagined this devotion in 
the pretty, lively girl who had only lived with us ten 
months ? I tried to dissuade her — represented to her the 
difiSculties, the absence of pleasures of every kind, the 
impossibility of conversation even, amongst foreigners: 
it was all in vain ; she persisted that she would not 
leave me, not even if she were a burden to me. That, 
however, she could not be, for she was not only an 
indefatigable servant, but had become a true friend. 
Touched by her affection, I embraced her, and told her 
that I gladly accepted her offer. Great was her delight ; 
more diligently than ever, early and late, she pursued 
her labours. 

I cannot refrain from giving a few particulars of so 
unusual a character — our most helpful, assiduous, and 
ever cheerful companion. 

During the war which desolated Saxony in 1813, 
Charlotte lost her home and parents, and, with about 
three hundred other orphans, was committed to the care 
of strangers. She was taken by a country clergyman 
near Leipzig and brought up with his own children. 
She shared their lessons, and thus received an education 
far above that of a servant. When the needs of a grow- 
ino- family made the support of a stranger a burden to 
the pastor, she resolved to earn her own living, and, 
recommended by friends at Dresden, entered my service. 
As our only servant, she performed the numerous duties 
required in every household, however small. After 
spending the morning in washing, cooking, and clean- 

Youth and Student Years. 15 

ing, and the afternoon in needlework, she employed the 
evening in writing to her friends, or in her diary. 

I should only be giving expression to my gratitude 
to Charlotte if I devoted more time to describing her ; 
but the purpose of these pages does not permit it. I 
must, however, dispute the prevailing idea that educa- 
tion unfits people for domestic service. My experience 
has taught me the contrary. He who takes an interest 
in the education of his servants (by which, doubtless, the 
cultivation of the mind is to be understood) and really 
cares for their welfare, will train up useful and devoted 

1 6 Syria and British Btcrmah. 



After all possible care had been taken for those we 
loved and were leaving at home, and the needful arrange- 
ments had been made for a long absence, the day of our 
departure arrived — the 17th of April 1835, — an ominous 
Friday, which had been fixed on, I know not why, in 
spite of the remonstrances of our friends. 

It is always affecting to tear oneself away from 
scenes amidst which a happy portion of life has been 
passed. It was doubly so in our case, for we were 
going to meet an untried future, and return was very 
doubtful. Though we had adopted our resolution with 
firmness and made our preparations with joyful anti- 
cipations, yet both failed us when the moment came 
for the last grasp of the hand, the last look ; when our 
eyes fell for the last time on the comfortable home, and 
with averted looks and downcast eyes we crossed the 
threshold, not knowing whether we should ever 
cross it again. Though Heifer had hastened the pre- 
parations as much as possible, he was deeply moved 
when the moment of parting came. 

We started at four in the morning, just as dawn 
was breaking ; and Prague's ancient edifices looked even 

From Prague to Smyrna. i 7 

more imposing than in broad daylight. The carriage 
passed slowly through the Vienna gate. There we 
halted, and the last farewells were said to friends who 
had accompanied us thus far ; and now the postillion 
struck up his morning hymn and we started at a quick 
pace for the unknown world. 

Bohemia, mostly so beautiful, does not offer much 
that is interesting on the old Vienna road, and we sat 
engrossed in our own thoughts till we reached Znaim. 
The fair was being held there, and there was a great 
concourse of people. The booths stood so thick that 
the large post- carriage could hardly find room to pass. 
As the postillion was making his way close to the houses, 
and had to turn a sharp corner, the carriage Avas over- 
turned with a great crash. It was heavily laden, and 
some time elapsed before it could be got up again. 
What horror seized us, when it was discovered that a 
woman had been crushed beneath it, and now drew her 
last breath and expired ! She was a fruit-seller, and 
had been sitting on the spot where the carriage was 
overturned. We were deeply moved by this painful 
occurrence, and the more so as she was the mother of 
four children. 

No one, however free from belief in omens and pre- 
sentiments of evil, can fail to feel a shudder when so 
frightful an accident happens before his eyes at the 
outset of an adventurous enterprise. 

Pale as death, my excitable Lotty exclaimed : ' 
bad Friday ! If only we had not set off on a Friday ! ' 
Our sympathy turned to the children so suddenly left 
motherless, the two eldest of whom came running to the 

VOL. I. C 

1 8 Syria and British Burmah. 

spot. We put our hands into our travelling purse, and 
Lotty, with her usual practical sense, forgetting her 
fright and ill omens, put the money in her hat, and, 
taking the children by the hand, made so successful a 
collection among the crowd that a considerable sum was 
handed over to the magistrate. Somewhat relieved, we 
continued our journey towards Vienna. 

After about thirty hours' traveUing, we approached 
the old imperial city which I only knew by descrip- 

My heart beat joyfully at the sight of the mighty 
Danube, with its well-wooded shores and the finely- 
formed hills. My eyes devoured the landscape as far 
as the narrow post-chaise windows permitted, until we 
reached the Eothe Thurm gate and drove in between 
the mean-looking shops. The imperial city no longer 
looked imperial. Its aspect is different now, thanks to 
advancino^ civilisation, and the gesthetic taste of the 

We stayed a few days to get introductions for Trieste 
and Smyrna. Madame Levy's letter procured us a most 
kind welcome in the house of her sister the Baroness 
Eskeles, which made our stay highly agreeable. 

Well provided with introductions, we left Vienna 
and proceeded slowly on our way. 

There was no railway then, by which you can 
hasten through the Miirzthal in a few hours : our 
journey with a voiturier took eight days. But then 
we saw all the beauties of the Steiermark at leisure. 
Heifer was rejoiced that they gave me so much 
dehght ; it convinced him that the journey would not 

From Prague to Smyrna. 19 

be a sacrifice, but a pleasure to me, which was a great 
rehef to his mind. 

On the 5th of May we reached Trieste, and, hke all 
travellers, ascended the heights of Optschina to enjoy 
the view of the city beneath, washed by the waves of 
the Adriatic. 

I was charmed with the shores, with their villas and 
gardens, and still more so with the deep blue of the 
sea, so much finer than the greenish grey colour of the 
Baltic. My eye swept over the waves to the distant 
horizon, seeking the coast of Asia, on which I was soon 
to set foot. 

We were so well provided with introductions that 
we were sure of a kind reception in the best house.«^ 
at Trieste. But this did not detain us. Impatient to 
reach the goal of our journey, we hastened our depar- 
ture, and, as the Austrian Lloyd's did not then exist, we 
had to embark in the Austrian brig Elizabeth — a very 
small and by no means inviting craft, but the only one 
just then in the harbour for Smyrna. The arrange- 
ments were so primitive that passengers had to take 
their own provisions. We laid in a stock for two 
weeks — the usual length of the passage between Trieste 
and Smyrna, — in which Lotty's help was most valuable. 
If I had had to do it alone, we should have been badly 
off. After having two large coops filled with poultry 
and considerable quantities of coffee, sugar, and rice puu 
on board, we thought we were amply provided for; 
but ' man proposes and God disposes.' 

On a splendid May morning we were accompanied 
to the vessel by friends we had made at Trieste. Herr 

c 2 

20 Syria and British Burmah. 

Napoli, an eDtorcological friend of Heifer's, presented 
me with a glittering keen- edged dagger, with an ivory 
handle, in a green sheath. ' On a journey like yours/ 
he said, ' you may be threatened with great dangers : 
the dagger will protect you in case of extremity.' He 
then showed me how it was to be most safely handled 
and used. Amiable as he was, it made him appear to 
me almost in a dubious light. However, I accepted 
the gift with thanks, though not without a certain 
aversion ; it was the first dagger I had ever had in my 
hand. I afterwards made better friends with it, and it 
gave me a feeling of security in many situations ; but, 
thank God, I never had occasion to use it. 
i- There is always a vast deal of bustle connected 
with the sailing of a ship. Even if the cargo and heavy 
goods are shipped beforehand, there is much that can 
only be done at the last moment. Every sailor, even 
of the lowest grade, has all sorts of little affairs of his 
own to look after before leaving port for a long 
absence ; for each carries on a little business on his 
own account, and with all the more zest, because it is 
done behind the captain's back. 

The narrow passage from the landing-place to the 
ship w^as crowded with people. Women, and even 
children, pushed in to bring their husbands, fathers, or 
brothers some profitable article of trade : fancy hand- 
kerchiefs, mirrors, red fezes, cut glass, or some private 
store of provisions, in addition to the ship's hard fare. 
Everything was quickly grasped, and still more quickly 
concealed, for the captain's eye was every wdiere, and 
he sharply chid every interruption of regular work. 

From Prague to Smyrna. 

o - Our turn came at last. Our hug^e chests, contamiiifr 
materials for an establishment, were hoisted in, and 
jammed, as well as might be, into the small space for 
passengers' luggage. We had to provide for" our own 
comforts in the little cabin, for everything was wanting. 
■This we left to the indefatigable Lotty, and remained 
on deck. 

When the bridge was withdrawn, the last link 
between us and home, in the widest sense of the word, 
was severed. We were leavinor not onlv the land of 
our birth, but the quarter of the world, the language, 
manners, civilisation, and modes of life with which all 
our ideas were associated. Our feet no longer trod 
mother earth ; we had confided ourselves to a frail 
craft on a treacherous element ; unfathomable as the 
w^aters beneath us was the future. 

The sails were spread,' the anchor weighed; the 
vessel heaved and then cut rapidly through the waves; 
land gradually receded from view until but a few specks 
were visible to my tear-bedimmed eyes. ' Adieu, 
Europe ! ' said Heifer, and grasped my hand in deep 
emotion. ' You are giving up much for me, Pauline ; 
henceforth we shall be all in all to each other — thrown 
upon ourselves entirely. But, do you know, it is just 
that which makes me so happy.' 

How could the expression of this deep, this perfectly- 
satisfied affection, fail to compensate me for sacrifices 
which really were no sacrifices at all ? how could I but 
be ready to go with him anywhere ? A pressure of the 
hand assured him that, by his side, I also was perfectly 
content and happy. 

22 Syria and British Bm^mah. 

It was tile gods' decree that we should taste all the 
discomforts of a voyage on this first occasion, and that 
our courage should at once be put to the test. 

Light breezes prevailed when we left Trieste, and 
the littk craft made a few miles daily by dint of tacking, 
until a complete calm put an end to all motion except 
rocking up and down. Our Dahnatian captain, in true 
seaman's fashion, tried to whistle the winds into favour, 
at first in gentle tones, but they waxed louder and 
shriller until his ill-humom* found vent in a storm of 
curses. It w^as fortunate for me that, being ignorant of 
the Dalmatian language, I heard nothing of this out- 
burst but tlie sound. 

Our stock of provisions was fast diminishing. Many 
of the fowls and ducks had died. The cook assured us 
that they died of sea-sickness ; and there were no signs 
of violence. Vmy sea-sick myself, and, in this most 
distressing of all conditions, nearly bereft of my senses 
and believing that I was near death, I did not doubt 
that this had been their fate, and almost .envied them 
the speedy termination of their sufierings. But Lotty, 
w^ho was not so ill, and soon recovered her energies, 
shook her head incredulously about the sea-sick fowls. 
' There must be some other explanation of it,' she said, 
' and 111 soon find it out.' 

The next morning she left her couch before day- 
break and disappeared. Xot long after I heard two 
contending voices : one of them was Lotty 's, scolding 
some one violently in the purest Dresden dialect, who, 
not understanding this sweet tongue, was answering 
her in Dalmatian. They were vying with each other 

From Prague to Smyrna. 23 

in their mutually unintelligible utterances, until the 
captain put an end to the strife, and it was explained 
that Lotty had seen a sailor take a live fowl out of the 
coop and crush its skull between his fingers. Just as he 
was putting it back into the coop, as if it had died of 
sea-sickness, she stepped out of her hiding-place, having 
caught the culprit in the act, who was now handed 
over to the enraged captain. Heifer had some diffi- 
culty in assuaging his wrath and in obtaining pardon 
for the thief ; the captain could not understand that it 
was no satisfaction to me to see him severely punished. 

This epidemic among our poultry was unfortunately 
discovered too late : only a few lean fowls were left, 
and there was no prospect of reaching land. 

Trusting to our abundant supplies, we had invited 
a young attache of the French Consulate at Syra, who 
did not relish the captain's dried fish, salt meat, and 
biscuit, to be our guest. We now had to have recourse 
to these dehcacies ourselves, though they were most 
repulsive to me, owing to continued sea-sickness. 

Heifer, on the contrary, proved from the first his 
adaptation for a voyage round the world : he had not a 
moment's illness, nor was the sailors' fare distasteful 
to him. With cheerful mien he stood on the prow, 
gazing towards the land of his future researches, or sat 
studying in the cabin. The fatigues of travel never 
robbed him of his cheerfulness, never afiected his 
health ; he seemed to be made of steel, invulnerable by 
any hardship. It w^as only in his intercourse with men 
that he was irritable and easily lost his equanimity. 

Two weeks had passed amidst bad weather, calms, 

24 Syria and British Bicrmah. 

and privations, and we were still far from land. One 
morning we were awakened out of the profound sleep 
into which one sinks on the open sea, by dreadful cries. 
We dressed and hastened on deck. 

What a spectacle met our view ! Three sailors and 
a little black boy were tied to the four guns we had on 
board, and their bare backs were being unmercifully 
lashed with strong cord. The captain was standing by 
and urging on the operator by crying out, ' More ! 
Harder ! ' 

For a few minutes we stood speechless with surprise 
and horror. At length I exclaimed : ' For God's sake, 
captain, what has happened ? Do stop ; you will whip 
them to death.' ' Not till the dogs have confessed/ he 
replied coldly and firmly. We saw that there was 
nothing to be done. Heifer, in fear for me, led me down 
into the cabin, where we stopped all openings as well as 
we could to keep out the sound ; but we only succeeded 
in deadenino^ it. At leno;th the lashes ceased, and a 
whimpering sound was heard, still more heart-rending 
than the previous cries. 

Heifer went on deck, and learnt that part of the 
cargo, which consisted of coffee, had been stolen. It. 
was not the value of it which so enraged the captain, 
but the fear of losing credit in the mercantile world. 
The culprit had not taken whole bags, but some coffee 
out of every bag, hoping thereby to escape detection. 
As the captain had to deliver the coffee by weight, his 
honour would have been at stake if each bag contained 
less than the invoice stated. He would have been taken 
for dishonest himself, and would have lost the confi- 

' From Prague to Smyrna: 25 

dence of the owner of the vessel. The idea of this 
danger, which he had only escaped by the accidental 
discovery of the theft, highly incensed him ; and, trem- 
bhng with rage, he swore that every one of the crew 
should be punished till the culprits were discovered ; and 
he kept his word. 

My remonstrances and entreaties were all in vain. 
The next mornino^ the Üoo^ginor beo^an again, and ended 
without any confession. A small bag of coffee had 
indeed been found in the berth of the little black boy ; 
but it had plainly only been put there by the real 
culprit to divert suspicion from himself. 

This obstinacy enraged the captain. When the 
scene was renewed on the third morning, I could bear 
it no longer : my whole nature revolted against being 
the witness of such cruelty ; besides, I dreaded an out- 
break between Heifer and the captain. Conscious of 
his authority as master of the vessel, he had answered 
all Heifer's remonstrances with defiance. I knew my 
husband too well not to fear that his self-control would 
give way, and I feared the consequences. We were not 
far from some of the scattered islands near the coast of 
Greece, destitute of inhabitants or vegetation, which 
rise abruptly out of the sea. While Heifer was deep 
in his books in the cabin I hastened to the captain. I 
did not fear him ; for even the roughest man cannot 
divest himself of a certain deference to an educated 
woman. I said to him, in a resolute tone : ' I cannot 
compel you to desist from your ill-treatment, but neither 
can you compel me to witness it. I wish to have a boat 
to land us and our goods on that island.' He smiled at 

26 Syria and British Burmak. 

first, for he took my demand for an empty threat, and 
said : ' You can't go there ; you'll be starved.' But my 
resolution was taken, and I answered : ' I would rather 
bear any hardship than witness these scenes. Vessels 
are so often passing here, that I may hope soon to be 
taken up. You have no right to detain us in your vessel 
against our will ; and if you choose to do so, we shall 
not fail to inform against you at the proper place.' 

The captain was alarmed, and no longer doubted 
that I was in earnest. He did not like the idea that 
his passengers should leave his ship and take refuge on 
a barren rock, to escape the sight of his cruelties. His 
lieart had been untouched by the cries of his victims, 
but he trembled at the risk of having himself and his 
vessel brought into disrepute. It was interesting to 
observe his countenance, unused to dissembhng, as he 
struggled between rage and reflection. At length the 
latter gained the day. He gave orders to release the 
men until he ran into the harbour of Syra, where he 
would have them up before the Austrian Consulate. 

Who was happier than I ? — on my own account as 
well as on that of the poor men, many of whom were 
undoubtedly innocent. I was rewarded by a grateful 
look from every eye. 

A favourable wind had arisen meanwhile which 
soon brought us in view of Syra, this city of the future, 
rising as it were out of the sea. 

With eager eyes we looked towards the first Greek 
city, the first Greek soil we were to tread. Our ex- 
pectations were not disappointed as we entered the 
harbour. To anyone coming from the centre of Ger- 

From Pragtee to Smyrna. 27 

many, and who knows the East only from books and 
pictures, even Syra seems to have a non-European 
character. The island, hilly throughout, consisting of 
black rock and covered with sparse vegetation, some- 
what resembles a hill of lava. Old Syra, about a mile 
from the shore, built on a rounded hill in the form of 
an amphitheatre, with its flat roofs, its churches and 
the convent on the summit, is highly picturesque. New 
Syra or Hermopolis, extending along the sea-shore, 
seems to rise immediately out of the waves ; and its 
origin accords with this impression. 

When the War of Independence had deprived many 
of the Greeks of their homes, some of them, particularly 
the inhabitants of Chios, who were driven from their 
island, found refuge at Syra. It was they chiefly who 
built Hermopolis ; and in a. short time, from the increase 
of its trade and population, wdiich rose from 16,000 to 
40,000, it became, next to Athens, the most important 
city of Greece. 

We were delighted to leave the confined space and 
close air of our vessel. Heifer, full of hope, from the 
peculiar formation of the island, of finding new insects, 
landed as soon as possible, and he was not disappointed : 
the gleaming wet sands swarmed with the various insects 
that frequent such spots. The beautiful Staphylinidce, 
with their bright-coloured wing-slieaths of greenish 
bronze and steel-blue edged with gold, hovered in 
countless multitudes over the sea in the sunshine, as if 
they enjoyed the play of colour produced by their re- 
flection in the water. As we were not to stay long at 
Syra, the time had to be turned to the best account for 

28 Syria and British Btirmah. 

collecting specimens. Heifer left it to me and Lotty to 
catch the Staphylinidce in butterfly nets, while he sought 
out the almost invisible but interesting beetles in sand 
and moss. In spite of the glowing noonday sun we 
dihgently pursued our fugitive prey, and did not observe 
at first that we were being attentively watched. 

Among the many vessels lying near the shore was 
an English war-schooner, on the deck of which a tele- 
scope was directed to us. The unusual spectacle of 
ladies at midday on the beach, running and jumping in 
the pursuit of insects invisible from the vessel, had ex- 
cited the captain's curiosity. We could not be natives, as 
a matter of course : no Greek lady would ever think of 
walking at this time of day, even if she ever wandered 
as far as the shore ; nor would slie ever depart from her 
slow, shufl^ling gait, least of all to catch insects on the 

The young seaman, who took an interest in other 
things besides his profession (not often the case with 
Englishmen, who mostly pursue one thing only, and 
that thoroughly), soon discovered the motive of our 
singular movements, and was curious to get a nearer 
view of the ladies collecting insects in this temperature. 

He landed and walked up and down, but at a re- 
spectful distance. What else could he do ? There was 
no one to introduce us ; and without this indispensable 
ceremony no Enghshman can bring himself to begin an 
acquaintance. A Frenchman or a German would have 
soon found out the way — would have made himself 
agreeable and have offered his help, but would probably 
as soon have forgotten the objects of his curiosity, and 

From Pragtie to Smyrna. 29 

have transferred his interest to something else. I^ot so 
our young Enghshman. The greater the distance he 
had kept, so that we took but httle notice of him, the 
greater and more lasting, as it afterwards appeared, had 
been his interest. 

Heated and tired, we sought for a locanda where 
we might get rest and refreshment. The latter was but 
poor, for a locanda at Syra (at that time at any rate) did 
not offer much that was inviting ; still it was a great 
boon to rest once more on terra fir ma ^ and I enjoyed 
the sweetest slumbers till towards evening. 

Heifer, who required less time to refresh himself, 
had meanwhile gone into the town to deliver a letter of 
introduction to the American missionary, Mr. Eobertson. 
He had been very kindly received, and brought an invi- 
tation to me to spend the evening. Nothing could be 
more agreeable than to spend a social evening after 
several weeks on board ship, and to make acquaintance 
with a, to me, new and interesting class of men, who, 
impelled by religious and humane enthusiasm, had left 
their homes to contribute their mite to the regeneration 
of the classic land of Greece. The American missionaries 
aimed not so much at converting as at instructing, and 
had estabhshed schools for boys and girls in which they 
were taught their own language and the elements of 
knowledge on the Lancasterian system. Our short 
stay, and my ignorance of Greek, prevented my testing 
the efficiency of this instruction ; but I was told that the 
abilities of the young Greeks and their desire to learn 
kept pace with each other, and that their progress was 

;o Syria and British Bitrmalu 

The schools were not then interfered with by 
the Greek clergy, as Mr. Eobertson was wise enough to 
keep aloof from dogmatic controversies. Unfortunately, 
conversation with Mrs. Eobertson was difficult, as she 
spoke as little French as I did English ; and it was only 
by the aid of a third person that we could understand 
each other. More guests soon arrived, and among them 
two English naval officers, one of whom we at once 
recognised as the stroller on the sands in the morning. 
He immediately availed himself of the opportunity of 
being introduced in due form, and naively said that he 
had observed us through the telescope, and the wish to 
make a nearer acquaintance had brought him here, 
where he was sure we should be found. 

Captain Owen Stanley was commissioned to make 
charts in Greek waters. This arduous task, in which 
the best charts of those seas originated, had long de- 
tained him in the Grecian Archipelago, so that he was 
quite at home there. The acquaintance of this young 
man, as highly educated as he was amiable, was a great 
advantage to us, for he obligingly offered to be our 
guide next day through the island. 

Early in the morning, Stanley and the second lieu- 
tenant. Heifer and I, started on our expedition. The 
island is of a most desolate character. It consists of 
black rock, destitute of vegetation, and has so httle 
fertile soil that it cannot even provide the inhabitants 
with fruit and vegetables, which are brought from the 
adjacent fruitful island of Tino. 

The way for a long time was difficult, over hard, 
black, sharp stones, painful to the feet, and scarcely any 

From Prague to Smyrna. 31 

path was traceable. But we beguiled the way all the 
more with conversation, in which our young guide dis- 
tinguished himself by his playful humour, and we learnt 
that he was the son of a man of high mental culture, 
afterwards Bishop of Norwich. He had left us in doubt 
as to our destination. I had begun to fear that the 
whole way would be equally difficult and uninteresting, 
when, on rounding a projecting rock, we stood at the 
entrance of a valley, narrow indeed, but thickly planted 
with orange and fig trees, pomegranates and cypresses, 
winding like a stripe of verdure among the black rocks. 
The citron trees were in full bloom, and at the same 
time laden with golden fruit; their ghttering leaves 
formed a strong contrast to the dark foliage of the 
cypresses, which looked solemnly down on the youthful 
bloom and fragrance beneath them. The heio^hts were 
covered with cactus in blossom, and their brilliant hues 
amidst the foliage formed a splendid sight. 

We were in the Vale of Coimo. It appears to have 
been formed by the hill having been rent asunder ; and, se- 
cluded from the rest of the world, it is a little paradise in 
itself. What a resting-place for a weary pilgrim, after the 
turmoil of life, or how well adapted for the contemplative 
life of a philosopher ! But no such dwellers did we find 
there : only a common-place Greek peasant, who was 
astonished at my delight ; he could not imagine what 
there was to admire so much. But so it ever is : man 
is only charmed with what he does not possess ; what 
he has without trouble, loses its attraction for him. 

The good man, flattered by my admiration, took us 
to the terrace of his house, whence we had a view over 


2 Syria and British Bttrmah. 

the greater part of the valley. He brought me plums, 
fully ripe even at that season, large edible citrons, 
which were new to me, and cucumbers, which in the 
East are often eaten undressed like other fruit, and 
are very cooling. 

In spite of all these glories, there was no accommo- 
dation for strangers — no benches and tables for serving 
Sunday visitors with coffee, beer, etc., such as every 
pleasant spot in the neighbourhood of a German town 
can show in only too great profusion. Wert thou in 
my country, happy valley, pleasure-seekers of all ranks 
would flock to thee ; thy rocks would echo the grandest 
concerts (for two groschen), and thy idyllic vale would 
be the promenade of pleasure-loving beauties ! There 

is nothing of all this here : it is seldom that the foot- 

step of a solitary traveller breaks the stillness, which is 
not even enlivened by the singing of birds. The male 
population of Syra is too much engrossed in business, or 
its political and national regeneration, to find time for 
pleasure, and the women, with their full figures , their 
slippers, and shuffling gait, have most likely never 
wandered so far. 

The Greek women differ very httle from the Turkish. 
Though the yoke of the Turk is thrown off, it has 
weighed too long and heavily upon Greece — has pene- 
trated too deeply into family life — for the effects of it to 
be easily effaced. The Turkish element is much more 
obvious among the women than the men. Like the 
Turks, they are almost entirely confined to the interior 
of their houses ; like them, they spend most of their 
time sitting idly on their divans, smoking the nargileh. 

From Prague to Smyrna. 33 

Their only care is the rearing of children : the men 
even manage the kitchen department ; for they go to 
market, and there is mostly a man cook : there are very 
few female servants, and they are of little use. Even 
the appearance of the Greek women reminded me more 
of the Turks than of the models of a Phidias. Though 
the form of the face is regular, and the straight line of 
forehead and nose recalls the antique, the features are 
too strong, the expression too masculine, and the short, 
somewhat corpulent figure too graceless, to remind one 
of the descendants of the Helens and Aspasias. 

The men, on the contrary, though mostly short, are 
well formed. The antique form of the foot is remark- 
able, even among the common people : the instep is so 
arched that the hollow is perhaps an inch from the 
ground. They are not a little vain of this beauty, and a 
Greek dandy takes pains to enhance it by wearing 
European boots ; but by artificial exaggeration it some- 
times reminds you of the arch of a bridge. Their 
vivacity, the quick pace at which they walk, their loud 
and rapid mode of speaking, — make them very unlike 
the dignified, taciturn Turks, and reminded me rather 
of the French, with whom they seem to have much in 
common, and they are fond of taking them as models. 

If, after the lapse of so long a time, during which 
the Greeks, with their excellent abihties, have made 
rapid progress, and great changes in manners may have 
taken place, this slight sketch should not be correct, 
the errors will be deemed pardonable. 

Having rested and refreshed ourselves, we proceeded 
on our way. Stanley mentioned the southern shore as 

VOL. I. D 

34 Syria and British Burmah, 

the object of our walk, and led us straight across the 

We soon had to leave the shady valley and to take 
the narrow path on the inhospitable black rock. We 
were getting very tired, and the, to us, unwonted Grecian 
sun began to be more and more intolerable. But before 
long the refreshing sound of the sea met our ears : only 
a few steps farther and its blue waters came in sight 
and surrounded us with their cooling atmosphere, while 
the soft moist sand was pleasant to our burning feet. 
' Here,' thought I, ' we might rest, if there is any shade ;' 
and just at that moment our amiable guide turned round 
a projecting rock, and our astonished eyes beheld a blue 
and white striped tent. Soft benches invited to repose, 
and a well- spread table, such as can only be provided 
from the stores of an English ship, with fresh fish and 
southern fruits, looked most inviting. Stanley had had 
this comfortable resting-place arranged by his sailors in 
the early morning, and was delighted at the success of 
his surprise. 

Some hours passed quickly away over the refresh- 
ing repast and amidst pleasant chat. For the first time 
I encamped in a tent, entertained by English hospi- 
tality, and for the first time tasted English ale and 
sherry. I little thought that this playful impromptu 
would soon be my daily mode of life. 

Towards evening we returned by a shorter, but 
still more difficult, way to the town, Heifer well laden 
with insects, in the search for which we had helped 
him. Eor him a day was not a successful one if he had 
not added to his collections : this day was doubly for- 

From Prague to Smyrna, 35 

tunate through the friendship which had arisen between 
him and Stanley, which afterwards afforded us many a 
pleasant hour. In token of our gratitude we allowed 
the merry Staphylinidce^ which had been the origin of 
our acquaintance, to sport undisturbed on the shore. 

I was pretty well tired, and spent the next day in 
my room, preparing for continuing our voyage, pinning 
out the insects, and pressing and packing the plants. 
Heifer, who never left a neighbourhood without ascend- 
ing to the highest point, made an excursion to the 
summit of the mountains. Here follows his own 
description of it : 

' To-day I made an excursion to the highest point 
of the island which had attracted my attention. The 
path, at first leading over loose stones, was soon lost 
altogether. I chmbed over rocks and crept through 
clefts, and feared it was too late to reach the top by 
daylight ; but I climbed on and on, until at last, to my 
delight, I stood on a little pyramid of stone which marks 
the height of 3,400 feet. Before me, far off in the sea, 
lay the island of Tiros, the verdure of which, in con- 
trast to the black masses of rock beneath me, looked 
very inviting ; in the dim distance Delos was lost in 
the crimson hues of the setting sun. But it was only 
for a short time that I feasted my eyes on the distant 
views : they were soon directed to earth again in search 
of the minutest insects and plants.' 

The next day we embarked on board our brig again, 
better provided than before. When we parted from 
our amiable host of the Yale of Coimo, he promised 
before long to follow us to Smyrna, whither the survey 

D 2 

36 Syria and British Burma h. 

for charts would take him. We were happy to find 
our captain in the best of humours. He had discovered 
who had stolen the coffee, and thus his own honour was 
safe from suspicion. A favourable wind arose and bore 
us swiftly onwards. 

Residence at Smyrna, 37 



On a fine morning in June, under a briglit blue sky, we 
steered round Cape Kara into the Gulf of Smyrna, the 
beauty of which is justly praised and compared to that 
of the Bay of Naples. The bay was spread out before 
us, surrounded by gently-rising hills, clothed alternately 
with tall cypresses, olive trees, and cornfields of varied 
hues of green. Illumined by the rising sun, Smyrna 
itself was seen at the farthest end of the bay, with its 
flat roofs, gaily-painted houses, and slender minarets 
in picturesque confusion. Higher up were the white 
tombstones of the Mussulman cemetery, overshadowed 
by dark cypresses. Beyond this again, is the old 
Eoman aqueduct, whose threefold arches, bidding 
defiance to eternity, extend majestically over the Turkish 
city, to which, with its gaily-painted and carved houses 
it produces the strongest contrast. But we were not 
long to enjoy the fine prospect and to yield ourselves 
to the reflections called forth by the contrast between 
the past and present. As we neared the harbour we 
observed the yellow flag on the masts of all the vessels 
— the signal of the plague ! 

The ships lay motionless. No sound of oars, no 

33 Syria and British Bttrmah. 

eries of chaffering trades-people : the harbour was still 
as death, though it was full of shipping. All our crew 
exclaimed : ' The plague ! ' — a fearful word, which 
calls up all the horrors of the desolating malady, and 
perhaps makes it sound doubly terrible to those who 
know it only by description, like every danger which 
one has not courageously looked in the face. A general 
tumult ensued on board. All rushed on deck to see 
the fatal signal for themselves, and, having seen it, each 
one cast down his eyes as if annihilated, and fell into 
deep dejection. 

All the hopes of the crew of being released from 
hard work, privations, rough usage — the ship's slavery, 
in short, — if but for a few days, and of enjoying a short 
respite on green mother earth were at once at an end. 

The captain rushed about with the vehemence of 
passionate natures, ready to explode like a rocket. The 
Avhole crew were assembled, and we too were sum- 
moned, to hear the strict regulations to be enforced : 
JSTo one was to leave the ship to return to it again ; all 
intercourse with land or with other vessels was strictly 
forbidden, and if anyone secretly disobeyed he would 
be liable to the penalties of the ship's discipline ; no 
trading, no taking in of provisions — in short, no inter- 
course whatever was to be allowed with the Smyrniotes. 
The danger of infection rendered such entire isolation 
necessary, and we could say nothing against it. 

Our situation was far from enviable. Entirely 
ignorant of the precautions to be observed, and laden 
with household goods, which we could not possibly 
take on shore with us at once, we knew not what to do. 

Residence at Smyrna, 39 

JSTo help was to be looked for from the captain. He was 
beside himself, and stormed about in doubt whether to 
cast anchor or at once to turn his vessel round. But 
at length the disadvantages to himself of the latter 
course decided him to remain. 

In our helplessness we resolved to have recourse to 
our letters of introduction ; and from amongst a large 
number selected that to the Baron Yan Lenep, the 
Dutch Consul, whose hospitality had been specially- 
lauded. In a letter sent with it, Heifer described our 
dilemma, and begged for his protection and advice. 
One of the pohce boats was called, which at such times 
keep watch over the maintenance of the sanitary regu- 
lations, and are the medium of the necessary communi- 
cation between the vessels and the shore. The captain, 
who handed the letter to the police officer at the end of 
a long staff, congratulated us on having so powerful a 
friend, who would not fail to take us under his pro- 
tection. The consideration in which the European 
Consuls are held in Smyrna is, in fact, very great. 
Their advice and co-operation in all the affairs of the 
pashalic is highly valued ; their consular policy and the 
precision and promptitude of their mode of conducting 
business, form a striking contrast to the easy-going 
fashion in which Mussulmans manage their affairs. 

All orders for the Consuls are executed without de- 
lay, even by the Turks ; and scarcely an hour had passed 
before a consular boat, with the Dutch flag, approached, 
and was saluted by our captain with great respect. 

Baron Yan Lenep was so obliging as to send his 
chief secretary, M. de Trauliette, to us. But even he was 

40 Syria and British BurmaL. 

not permitted to come on board, but handed up his 
chiefs letter from the boat, which was seized by our 
captain with tongs and steeped in vinegar til] it was 
almost illegible. The baron offered his services in 
the kindest manner. But precisely what we wanted 
we hardly knew ourselves. ' Eelease from shipboard,' 
sighed I ; ' And some place of safety,' added Heifer. 

'Put yourselves under my protection,' said our 
friendly envoy. ' I know what you want ; only trust to 
me.' ' With pleasure,' we replied. In some situations 
it is the greatest boon to be dehvered from deciding for 
oneself, and to follow the guidance of another. 

We were at once let down into the boat, in which, 
however, the otherwise very polite young man offered 
me no assistance, but kept at a distance in the middle 
of the boat while we took the stern. 

Lotty sent an anxious glance up to the vessel which 
contained all our property, hitherto carefully watched 
by her. M. de Trauliette answered her looks with the 
comforting words : ' The luggage will be well taken 
care of.' At a signal from him the oars were dipped, 
and the boat was dexterously steered between the 
numerous craft. Everyone hastened, however, to make 
way for the consular flag. 

We soon reached the shore and set foot upon the 
soil of Asia. How I had looked forward to this moment ! 
How reverently I had meant to greet the classic ground 
where Homer had composed his immortal poems ! But 
now a dirty rabble surrounds the traveller, falls upon 
him, shouting and scuffling, and takes possession of him 
and his effects. Mountains of goods of all sorts and 

Residence at Smyrna. 41 

sizes, just unloaded or to be loaded, were lying about ; 
porters were bending under their heavy burdens ; 
camels, lean and weary, having come long distances, 
had laid down to rest ; others were being laden ; asses, 
bearing their daily lot, sadly drooped their heads ; 
baskets of fruit or fish sent forth good or evil odours 
according to their contents. Turbaned merchants stalked 
solemnly about in the midst of this confusion, testing 
wares with critical eye. Everyone was armed with a 
stick, and took good care to avoid contact with eveiy 
person or thing, and roughly kept off with the stick 
those who came too near. Amongst it all the police 
stormed about, exercising their office by cracking their 
whips right and left, not caring whether they hit the 
innocent or the guilty. 

I stood bewildered by this strange confusion, and 
hesitated to proceed. ' Do not fear,' said M. de Trau- 
liette encouragingly ; ' you are under my protection.' 
Two of the consular police went first with their signal, 
and two behind. The crowd respectfully made way ; 
for the commonest Turk knows the dignity of a Consul, 
and the most fanatical Mussulman in Smyrna would not 
think of refusing the respect due to him. Thus we 
arrived unmolested at the Locanda de J^ave, on the 

If an Italian tavern is repulsive to us Germans, 
from its want of cleanliness and comfort, how much 
more so an albergo in Turkey ! 

We were conducted up a dark, dirty staircase to a 
large room on the first floor. The walls, which were 
of wood, and the floor were coloured dark brown ; a 

42 Syria and British Burmah, 

table of tlie same and a few chairs completed the fur- 
niture. Two small closets opening out of it contained 
bare bedsteads. 

' Here,' said M. de Trauliette, ' you are in safety. 
This is a clean house' ('clean,' in this sense, means 
that the house is in quarantine, and protected from 
infection) ; ' but you must not touch anything that is 
handed to you, except wood ' (wood is not considered 
. a medium of infection) ; ' not a handkerchief, nor a 
towel, nor a bed : all these things are especially 
dangerous. You must also keep aloof from the ser- 
vants of the house : that class of persons is not to be 
trusted. Food will be placed on the table close to the 
door, from which the empty vessels will be removed, 
so that the waiter will not have to enter the room. It 
will also be best not to allow your servant to leave the 
room : you cannot tell whether proper precautions 
will be observed.' With these words he closed several 
side doors, handed me the key, and added, ' When 
you go out, fasten the main door, so that your servant 
may not be tempted by curiosity.' Therewith he gave 
a significant look at Lotty, who stood looking on with 
an air of astonishment. 

We had listened to all this with open mouths and 
bewildered looks. The scene was tragic enough, and 
yet I could not forbear from ironically exclaiming : ' So 
this is what you call a clean house and being in a place 
of safety ! ' 

' Certainly,' M. de Trauliette replied, shrugging his 
shoulders. ' It is the best house that we have, for it 
was placed in quarantine at the first outbreak of the 

Residence at Smyrna. 43 

plague ; but you can never rely upon servants. How- 
ever, you cannot stay here long. I will at once look 
out for a more suitable private dwelling.' He then 
handed to me and Heifer two long, stout sticks, giving 
us to understand that we must not go into the streets 
without them, and must ruthlessly keep everyone olF 
from us, taking special care that our clothes did not 
come in contact with anyone. ' It would be better, 
however, not to go out at all. Strangers are generally 
too scrupulous in the use of the stick, and are likely to 
get into danger.' With this he took his leave. 

My Lotty had already begun to busy herself with 
the luggage, which had meanwhile arrived, and had 
prepared a bed for me as well as she could. Tired to 
death I lay down, and did not awake till late next 
morning from a profound and peaceful sleep. One 
sleeps a great deal on board ship, but the slumbers of 
a sea-sick person are not refreshing, and the aw^aking 
is most uncomfortable. The only remedy is to make a 
resolute effort, to hasten out of the close cabin on deck, 
to inhale the fresh sea breeze at dawn, and, deep in 
contemplation and adoration inspked by the splendour 
of the rising sun, to forget one's pain and misery. 

After we had partaken of our modest breakfast, 
with all precautions, and were discussing how w^e could 
best arrange our life under these uncomfortable cir- 
cumstances, the door opened, and a pleasant- looking 
little gentleman entered, followed by the house servant, 
who most respectfully announced him as ' M. Van 
Lenep, Consul of His Majesty the King of Holland.' 
Surprised by this pohte attention, we advanced to meet 

44 Syria and British Burmah, 

him and to express our thanks, — which I was about to 
emphasise by a shake of the hand, but was alarmed to 
observe that the kindly expression of his face suddenly 
changed, and, retreating a few steps, he put his hands 
behind him. We looked at each other in silence for a 
moment, when he said, ' Pardon me, but during times 
like the present all contact is dangerous and must be 

' What do you mean ? ' I said. ' Would a shake of 
the hand be dangerous to you or to me ? ' 

' To both,' he replied. ' You cannot know whether 
I may not be already infected, and you, although you 
have but just landed from a clean ship, may have come 
into dangerous contact with your first step on shore. 
I am come to assure myself of your health with my 
own eyes, and to help to provide you with another 
dwelling. I regret that the epidemic does not permit 
me to offer my own house, but it is in strict quarantine, 
and needful caution forbids us to open it to anyone.' 

He even declined the proffered seat, and, obviously 
uneasy at being in a place not wholly free from sus- 
picion, to which he had only been brought by the tra- 
ditional politeness to strangers with an introduction, he 
took leave, with a renewed request that we would stay 
indoors until we should hear from him in the course of 
the day. 

The precautions against infection during the pre- 
valence of the plague are very comprehensive, and 
strictly observed among the European population. 
The abodes of the wealthier famihes, generally shut 
off from the street by a high wall, the gate in which 

Residence at Smyrna. 45 

forms the only means of ingress to the often spacious 
interior, are kept strictly closed : all intercourse with 
the towns-people is forbidden. The gate is opened to 
no one, and the master himself takes charge of the 
key. Provisions are brought by special dealers, who 
go through the streets with them in the morning and 
knock at the gate, when a sliding shutter is opened, 
and, for greater security, the goods are received by 
the master himself They are thrown through the 
opening into a vessel of water inside before they are 
touched by the receiver. Loaves, eggs, vegetables, 
even hve fowls, are thrown in. Everything must pass 
through the purifying element before it can be touched 
and cooked. 

But in spite of this isolation the pestilence does 
sometimes find its way into the best families, causing 
unspeakable distress. The dread of infection is so 
great that it destroys the feelings of humanity and 
rends the closest ties. Everyone flies from a person 
seized by it ; the infected house is deserted ; husbands 
and wives, brothers and sisters, are separated ; the 
mother even leaves her sick child to the care of Greek 

In the afternoon M. de Trauhette appeared, com- 
missioned by his chief to conduct us to a really clean, 
and, what was more, a German house. The migration 
was at once effected, and before long we were in the 
pleasant and very neat house of a clockmaker from 

How attractive the white bed hangings, the clean 
floors, the carefully dusted furniture, looked to us ! 

46 Syria and British Burniah. 

The large cabinet was filled with cut glass and many- 
coloured bowls. There were even some Easter eggo. 
I took it all in at a glance ; and how it reminded me of 
home ! I had not imagined that so short a separation 
from my beloved country could make a German middle- 
class house look like an Eldorado. It is thus that w^e 
learn abroad to appreciate the advantages of home. 

The good people — a busy little old man, and his 
wife, as broad as she was long, — gave us a most kindly 
welcome. Her beaming face was encircled by a plaited 
white cap, and with her white apron she was the very 
picture of a cleanly housewife. Herr Hoffner had been 
settled many years in Smyrna. He took care that the 
Turks did not get quite behind the age in their reckon- 
ing of time, and his wife took in travellers, who, like 
ourselves, desired cleanliness and security. Both 
carried on a thriving trade. 

The very next day Heifer began his entomological 
excursions in the neighbourhood. He also sought 
opportunity to see patients suffering from the plague 
and to try remedies. For this purpose he obtained 
access to a Greek convent in which a plague hospital 
was established. He was readily taken round by 
monks who had recovered from it, and so were not 
liable to infection. But when he announced his inten- 
tion of administering remedies and making observa- 
tions, he was gravely told that it was not permitted : 
fate must not be interfered with. No appeal to reason 
no argument, availed against these truly fatalistic prin- 
ciples. He tried to give remedies secretly to some of 
the sick, hoping that if timely taken they might shorten 

Residence at Smyrna. 47 

the course of the disease — that is, hasten the breaking 
out of the carbuncles, and thus save the patient. He 
told me that in one case he had succeeded ; but further 
observations were prevented, as his visits to the hospital 
were forbidden. 

Smyrna has three entirely distinct populations : the 
Turks, the Greeks, and the Franks. With the Turks, 
who are by far the most numerous, I made no acquaint- 
ance, as it is considered so dangerous to enter the 
narrow, dirty lanes of their quarter, that anyone seen 
in them is shut out from other intercourse. The 
Greeks inhabit a quarter of the city to themselves, and 
their houses, built of wood and framework, gaily 
painted and adorned with carvings, have a pleasing 
appearance, but look as if the first breeze would blow 
them away ; though, from the yielding nature of the 
wood, they really stand the often-recurring earthquakes 
better than the massive stone buildins^s, which are rifted 
and split, and fall completely into ruins. 

The Greeks are the vital element in the civic 
organism. The retail trade is almost exclusively in 
their hands. I could not, however, make much 
acquaintance with them either, owing to the restric- 
tions on intercourse. But I was struck with their 
appearance. Clad in the white fustanella with its 
many folds, their richly-embroidered vests, long white 
shirt sleeves, the broad girdle holding a pair of pistols, 
the red fez with its blue tassel, — they looked more fit 
for the stage than for making bargains. But this is 
their favourite occupation, and they are said to display 
all the cunning of their classic ancestors. 

48 Syria and British Burmak. 

- — m — 

The Franks are mostly descendants of Italian or 
French families who have settled here, and have partly 
intermarried with the Greeks and partly kept their 
descent pure. They prefer to be called Europeans, 
even though they only know Europe from the traditions 
of their forefathers. They are proud to wear the dress 
coat of the West as a sign of their origin ; nowhere is 
so much importance attached to this article of dress as 
in Smyrna. It is the key to good society, to the houses 
of the Consuls. To have access to them is not to be 
despised, for the Consuls are a power which, under 
some circumstances, can measure its strength with that 
af a European great power. The Pasha would not 
think of taking any measure of importance without 
consulting his good friends the consuls. He rules 
ostensibly, with their quiet co-operation. So it was at 
all events at that time. 

It soon became known that a German physician 
had arrived. Sufferers who had long tried in vain ail 
the means which the Smyrniote disciples of Esculapius 
could offer them, hoped for aid from a doctor who 
had really studied and taken a degree. A few cures, 
effected without any great medical skill, increased the 
favourable opinion of Heifer, and fame soon pro- 
nounced him a miraculous doctor. Not only the 
higher and more wealthy classes sought his aid, but 
the lower grades of the people, even Turks, who 
usually commend body as well as soul to Allah, flocked 
to him, though with more faith in the wonder-worker 
than the physician. 

The httle room in which he had to see patients was 

Residence at Smyrna. 49 

soon too small, and the crowding in the Hmited air 
space became intolerable. When the time allotted for 
the audiences was long past, and fresh patients were 
still arriving, he often escaped by the back door. 

As medical practice was only a secondary object 
with him, he did not wish to be too much tied by it, 
and to be hindered from botanical and entomological 
excursions. But while we lived in the town these were 
out of the question, and we therefore resolved to leave 
it. We found accommodation in the house of a mis- 
sionary of the English Church (though he was a native 
of Würtemburg) at Budja, the summer residence of 
most of the English families, between two and three 
miles ^ from Smyrna. We retained our rooms in the 
good clockmaker's house, as a place of call, and Heifer 
saw patients there three times a week. 

Budja is a charming spot. The pretty country 
houses are scattered in picturesque confusion amidst 
the shade of olive trees and cypresses interspersed with 
oleanders and myrtles. Winding foot-paths led from 
one to another, for there were no carriage-roads. 
Mrs. Verry, wife of the English Consul, had had a road 
made from Smyrna to her country house at Budja, but 
it was so rough that the drive in her carriage (the only 
one in Smyrna) was not very enviable, though so unique 
a possession made her very distinguished. AU the 
social intercoiu^se at Smyrna is carried on by means of 

^ English miles. Distances are given in English miles throughout the 
translation with as much accuracy as I can command, reckonino* the 
German mile at 4|- English, and the rather indefinite ' stunde ' at 2^. 
.Dr. Heifer generally uses the English mile. — Tk. 

VOL. I. E 

50 Syria and British Bttrvtah. 

that most patient and unjustly despised animal, the ass. 
What would Smyrna be without its asses ? They not 
only convey all the necessaries of life to tlie inhabitants, 
they are the only mode of conveyance : they carry the 
men to business, the ladies to pay visits. One sees tlie 
pretty Smyrniotes, in their finest clothes, riding on 
donkeys to a ball. On the occasion of such festivities, 
they may be seen riding through the streets of Smyrna, 
the back of the head covered with the becoming red fez 
with dark blue tassel, beneath which flow thick braids of 
blonde or chestnut hair, their fair brows adorned with 
fresh flowers, and the wavy ball dress covered with a 
mantle. And how gently and carefully the well-trained 
animal bears the belle ! how much room his back affords 
for her ample robes ! JSTot crushed and crumpled in a 
carriage, as with us, does she alight from her palfrey : 
casting off* the mantle, fresh as a rose she steps into the 
well-hghted rooms. It is quite worth while to attend 
an assembly of young Smyrniotes decked out for a ball : 
a prettier sight can hardly be imagined. The admix- 
ture of various European types which is unmistakably 
evident, gives to the Asiatic, regular, but somewhat 
rigid features of the Greek women a peculiar charm and 
loveliness, which is wanting in the straight lines of the 
pure classic style. Then there is the joyousness of 
these fearless and innocent children. I never saw such 
unrestrained laughter and merriment combined with so 
much natural grace. 

Our stay at Budja, in the house of Mr. Jetter the mis- 
sionary, was as pleasant as it was interesting. For the 
first time I made acquaintance with English family hfe ; 

Residence at Sinyrna, 5 i 

for, althougli modified by foreign ways and usages, 
it still retained its English character in its agreeable 
aspects. Only I could not acquire a taste for the strict 
observance of Sunday. I could not understand why 
the whole day should be spent in religious observances. 
At first I was disposed to regard the absence of every 
cheerful sound, of all secular music, the abstinence from 
any but religious reading, as evidences of an exalted 
state of mind, and to admire it ; but when I became 
better acquainted with this family, and found them 
ennuyees^ or napping over a religious book during my 
afternoon calls, and knew how they longed for the cool 
evening and the walk then permitted, I thought our 
German Sunday, with its morning service and cheerful 
recreation in the afternoon, was more in keeping with 
the right proportion between things divine and man's 
nature, and that it gave to each its due. Afterwards, 
when in England, I found the key to English Sabbath- 
keeping in the religious sentiments of the people, which 
cannot fail to inspire respect. The solemn observance 
of the whole day is not a doctrine imposed upon the 
people by those above them, but a religious necessity 
deeply rooted in their hearts, which the upper classes 
respect and to which they conform. I have myself 
laid aside my needlework when the servant came into 
the room, in order not to wound her Sunday feelings. ^^ 

^ It will be a novel idea to most English, people that our strict ob- 
servance of Sunday is a concession to the feelings of the working classes, 
and may be taken as an instance of the difficulty of understanding foreign 
customs. As will be seen in the sequel, Mme. Heifer, when in England, was 
a guest in the house of the Prussian Ambassador, where it *is possible that 
she may have observed something of the conformity she speaks of. — Tb. 

E 2 

52 Syria and British Burmah. 

Much of this will be changed by time, which 
changes all things, — whether improved, remains to be 

An incident with Lotty nearly put an unpleasant 
f.nd to our stay at Mr. Jetter's at Budja. I had strictly 
enjoined upon her to conform to the customs of the 
house and to abstain from all secular employment on 
Sunday. She generally sat, poor thing, sadly weary, 
under the shade of the plane trees outside the door, with 
a devotional book by her side, but she was not given to 
read long together. One Sunday she was joined by the 
Greek servant of the house, on whom solemnity was 
also enjoined. They sympathised wdth each other as well 
as they could by means of words and gestures, about the 
melancholy Sundays ; each told the other how different 
it was at home, and Lotty, overcome with the memories 
of many a country dance, and wishing to show her fellow- 
sufferer the delights of a jig, sprang from her seat, 
struck up a Vienna country dance tune and whirled 
and swung herself in time to it, making quite a clatter 
on the smooth pavement. Suddenly a stentorian voice 
called 'Stop!' to her, in which, though hidden from 
view, she recognised that of the strict master of the 
house. His face flushed with anger, he overwhelmed her 
with reproaches about immorality. Sabbath-breaking, 
and similar expressions, which sent the poor thing in 
tears to me. I had great difficulty in appeasing the re- 
verend gentleman ; he would not listen to my assurances 
that she meant no harm, he considered it an insult to his 
pious household and his spiritual calling. Finally, his 
wife and Heifer came to the rescue, and by our united. 

Residence at Smyrna. 53 

efforts peace was restored. But I never saw my Lotty 
merry in that house again. 

We were invited by Count Hoschpie, a nephew of 
M. Van Lenep, to his romantically situated summer re- 
sidence, Sedi Koui, four or five miles from Budja, called 
the Dutch Village, and, in company with several young 
ladies, friends of the family, we made an exciu'siou 
thither, of course mounted on well-trained and gaily- 
caparisoned donkeys. 

The path led through a fruitful plain surrounded by 
picturesque hills, clothed with myrtles, oleanders, arbu- 
tus, gum trees, and ilex. The foliage and blossoms, and 
the rich cornfields were a wonderful sight, and presented 
a blending of colours such as can only be produced in 
the temperate Ionian climate, without extremes of heat 
or cold. 

The count received us alone, and was anxious to 
make up for the absence of the lady of the house by 
his own amiability. He seemed to enjoy showing his 
art treasures as well as his knowledge of them. Besides 
a whole genealogical tree of family portraits, he had a 
considerable number of fine paintings of the Dutch 

After we had feasted on these treasures, food for the 
body was not forgotten : sherbet, delicious fruits, pastry, 
and the never-failing glico^ were offered us. But we 
were soon disturbed by the sound of horses' hoofs and 
the clang of arms outside, and by the entry of Turkish 
pohce soldiers. With the pomposity peculiar to them, 

^ A jelly made of various fruits, offered, with a .glass of water, to 
every visitor at any time of day. — Tr. 

54 Syria and British Bttrmah. 

but with ill-concealed awe at seeing M. Van Lenep, 
they respectfully asked permission, with folded arms 
and many prostrations, to search the house and grounds. 
]^o Turkish official can enter a Consul's house without 
his leave, not even to take a notorious criminal into 

A Jew had recently been assassinated in the neigh- 
bourhood, which had been for some time insecure, and 
the assassin was said to have taken refuge here. Per- 
mission having been given, and the good Mussulmans 
having quaffed goblets of fiery wine with much satis- 
faction, they proceeded to search for the murderers, 
but with so much noise, and care not to incur danger 
themselves, that I was reminded of hare-shooting at 
home, and the care taken to keep out of the line of 
shots. Of course no brigands were taken ; they had 
had plenty of time to make off. 

I^othing daunted by this incident, we set off on our 
return in the higliest spirits. Mile. d'Yong, daughter of 
the Danish Consul, a very pretty and lively girl and a 
bold rider, took it into her head to boast of the qualities 
of her donkey. This gave rise to a little contest, as no 
lady liked to have her ass undervalued. I was amused 
and reminded of the wagers at our races at home, 
and half in jest proposed that the animals should decide 
for themselves, by running a race. The proposal took, 
and, as we were in the open plain, it was carried out 
at once. But however well trained, it is not easy to 
bring a cavalcade of asses into a line. I, who did not 
join the race, gave the signal for the start — one, two, 
three, — and away sped the animals and their riders. If 

Residence at Smyrna. 55 

no sparks were struck, ribbons, hats, flowing locks, and 
dresses flew about, presenting a sight as comical as it 
was pretty. The greatest difliculty was, however, at 
the end of the course. When a donkey is once roused 
out of his lethargy, and is in full trot, it is impossible 
to keep him in a particular course or to stop him at a 
certain point, and all missed the mark. Thus the com- 
parative merits of the asses, like many other problem S; 
remained an open question. 

As the plague brought from Constantinople is not 
so virulent, and does not last so long, as that from 
Egypt, after a time it ceased to disturb men's minds at 
Smyrna. There was less restriction on intercourse, and 
our friend of Syra, Captain Owen Stanley, could venture 
to run his schooner into the harbour of Smyrna, and to 
continue his surveys. His arrival was a great pleasure 
to us and of great importance to me, for to his instruc- 
tions in sketching I owe a collection of sketches, very 
imperfect, but still interesting. Heifer found in him a 
wilhng companion for ascending the Tartali, the highest 
of the chain of mountains encircUng Smyrna. We were 
also joined by several gentlemen, who had often pro- 
jected the ascent, but, with their accustomed love of 
ease, had never performed it. We chose a bright moon^ 
light night, to escape the heat of the day and that we 
might see the sunrise from the top. 

Mounted on horses, asses, or mules, we set ourselves 
in array, and rode through an extensive plain, the care- 
ful cultivation of which surprised us. 

Pomegranates, orange and fig-trees alternated with 
various crops of grain, until we reached the village of 

56 Syria and British Burmak. 

Burnar Bashi, whose pretty dwellings lay peacefully 
amidst the dark groups of trees in the moonlight. 
Thence we began the ascent and were soon in the 
deep shade of thick woods on the slope of the mountain, 
which rises abruptly from the plain. 

The path, if path it can be called, winding between 
lofty walls of rock and along steep precipices, became 
more and more difficult and unsafe, from rolling stones ; 
it was fortunate for those inclined to be giddy that the 
darkness concealed the deep gorges, the edges of which 
the beasts obstinately chose to take. Unmoved by their 
riders' fears, they will obey no admonitions either gentle 
or severe. It is best to leave them to themselves, as 
they rarely make a false step. Towards midnight we 
reached the summit. We felt the great change of tem- 
perature very keenly, in spite of cloaks and a quickly- 
kindled fire. The height measured by Heifer by a 
barometer was 5,180 feet. 

Wearied with the exertion, we took a short rest, 
from which we were awakened about four by the first 
light of dawn, and eagerly watched for the crimson 
hues of the rising sun. Words fail to describe the 
beauty of the scene from this point. 

The ball of fire lighted up the wooded hills and 
vales extending far to the eastward, chasing the deep 
shadows in which they had been veiled. ]^ow here, 
now there, a mountain peak appeared in the rosy light. 
The mists dispersed, and, assuming wondrous forms, 
sought refuge in the deep, narrow valleys. Towards 
the west extended the Gulf of Smyrna, set in its lovely 
shores, and almost closed in by wooded islands ; beyond 
tuese the eye roamed over the boundless sea. 

Residence at S7nyrna. 57 

Smyrna, lying apparently at our feet, with its slender 
minarets, its bright-coloured houses, its harbour full of 
ships with their pennons streaming in the breeze, lent 
life to the scene, and brought back the mind, lost in the 
contemplation of nature, to prosaic realities. Unfor- 
tunately we could not long yield ourselves to this, for 
we had to take advantage of the cool of the morning 
for our descent. 

The concourse at Heifer's medical audiences in- 
creased from day to day ; but so also did the envy and 
wounded pride of the native doctors — mostly Greeks. 
In spite of their ignorance, they had hitherto maintained 
their professional dignity ; but they now saw their in- 
terests threatened by a young stranger, who neither 
sought practice nor intercourse with them. No wonder 
that they bore him a grudge and considered how to get 
rid of their obnoxious rival. 

A report was gradually spread that Heifer's life was 
in danger ; but the author of it could not be discovered. 
Before long he received threatening letters, warning 
him not to continue his practice. He, however, dis- 
regarded them, as well as the remonstrances of our 
anxious friends, and continued to see patients on the 
appointed days. His carelessness lulled my fears, until 
one day he showed me a sheet of paper which he had 
found on one of his walks, fixed to an arbutus^ on which 
were che words : ' Take care ! Not long wilt thou go 
to heal the sick by this road ; thy hours are numbered ! ' 
The paper might have been just affixed ; the foe was 
probably lurking near, to see whether it fell into the 
right hands, and what effect it produced. 

58 Syria and British Burmak. 

This incident roused us out of our security, and 
tlie more so as we were told of many instances of the 
revengeful malice of the Greeks. It often slumbers for 
a long period, but at last takes unerring aim at its 
victim, even after the lapse of years. 

Heifer no longer went out unarmed, and was always 
accompanied by an armed servant in his walks to the 
town. But these precautions would probably not have 
protected him ; for who can always be prepared for a foe 
in ambush ? Just then, however, a providential circum- 
stance, or at any rate an unexpected event, occurred, 
which put a sudden termination to our stay in lovely 
Budja, and had an important influence on our after lives. 
During one of our visits to the city, our loquacious 
host told us with beaming face, that during the last few 
days he had lodged two very distinguished guests, who, 
if we would permit, would dine with us. We had no 
objection, but paid little heed to this pompous announce- 
ment, as we knew that oiu* Nuremberger's love of truth 
had not been improved by residence in the East. We 
were therefore the more surprised when the door 
opened and two young men entered, both very hand- 
some, and in rich Turkish costume. With the fine 
features and contemplative look of the dark eyes, 
shaded by long lashes, peculiar to the Asiatic, the fine 
curly beard, the swelling lips and beautiful teeth, was 
combined that expression of mental activity, indicative 
of European culture, which is usually wanting in the 
Asiatic. Thus their appearance combined the advan- 
tages of East and West. We were still more surprised 
by the dignified ease with which they addressed us and 

Residence at Smyrna. 59 

carried on an interesting conversation in French and 
English. It was something quite extraordinary. We 
were curious to learn what country could have pro- 
duced these marvels, and where they had been 
brought up. In answer to our inquiries they told 
us that they were nephews of the celebrated Dost 
Mahomet Khan, Euler of Cabul. They related to us 
their history circumstantially. Their mother, a prin- 
cess distinguished by her mental powers, had been 
brought up at Ispahan, and had been intimate with the 
ladies of the English Embassy, from whom she had 
imbibed from childhood a taste for the English lan- 
guage and European culture. They spoke with great 
affection of an elder sister, who had been carefully edu- 
cated by their mother, and whose instructive conver- 
sation attracted them to the apartments of the harem 
even after the age at which, according to usual Oriental 
customs, they would have been excluded from them. 
They had a great desire to see Europe, the land of intel- 
ligence and of the arts. After the death of their father, 
they took advantage of their independence to gratify it, 
and in order to see and observe unmolested, they had 
gone first to England and then to France, incognito, as 
British subjects, under the names of Hunter and Brown. 
They were now on their way back, enthusiastically 
intent on introducing European culture and manners 
into their own country. 

Their remarks and criticisms on our social institu- 
tions were most striking and piquant. They had not 
been dazzled by the advantages of Europe, but had 
preserved an open eye for the absurdities of our social 

6o Syria a7td British Btirmah. 

life and fashion. If James Morier had met with them, 
we should perhaps have had more volumes of his cele- 
brated book, ' Hajji Baba in England.' 

A few days later we again met our new acquaint- 
ances at a fete in the ' Great Paradise,' — a pleasure 
resort of the Smyrniotes. They had been invited by 
the English Consul, and were treated by him and the 
elite of the company with great consideration. If we 
had had any doubts about their identity they would 
have been dispelled by this, as the English Consul was 
in possession of their papers. However, we did not 
need any confirmation of our own impressions. 

The lovely young lady world hovered like gay 
butterflies round these two rarce aves. Song and dance 
and lively chat were intermingled without constraint. 

Uhli Khan, the elder of the two Afghans, behaved 
with the gravity and dignity of a true Asiatic prince : 
he scarcely deigned to glance at the ladies, and only 
seemed to take pleasure in conversing with men, and 
in the music. Selim Khan, the younger, was evidently 
torn by conflicting feelings : he beat time involuntarily 
to the music, and his eye roamed with pleasure among 
the circle of ladies who roguishly invited him to dance. 
But his Mussulman ideas of manly dignity would not 
permit it ; for, according to these, dancing is only for 
slaves and women. 

We learnt to appreciate our interesting friends more 
and more. The books they had with them showed 
their culture, and good taste in literature. English 
classics, Addison, Johnson, and Steele were their 
favourite reading ; their conversation consisted mostly 

Residence at Smyrna. 6i 

of descriptions of their country, their hopes and pro- 
jects for its improvement. Their narrations had a great 
charm for Heifer, and he expressed a playful wish some 
day to travel in those regions. But the seriousness that 
lurked beneath the jesting tone did not escape me, nor 
how much the pressing invitations of both the Affghans 
to accompany them increased his desire to go. They 
took a great fancy to Heifer, and greatly regretted 
that they must soon part, and that they could not have 
the aid of his acquirements for their projects. They 
described their uncle, Dost Mahomet, as a man who 
highly valued Europeans, and granted them perfect 
security. They also told him that the journey, under 
their influential protection, would be quite devoid 
of danger. They intended to take the caravan road 
through Baghdad to Basrah, to take ship for the Indus, 
and to go up by the river to Cabul. They said that 
their influence was great on the lower Indus, as their 
uncle was in alliance with the Ameers. To defray the 
expenses of the journey, they carried, after Oriental 
fashion, precious stones and pearls. 

I observed that Heifer sought to conceal his desire 
to accompany the princes from me, and I became con- 
vinced that the stay at Smyrna, pleasant and promising 
as it had hitherto been, would have no further charms 
for him. Still he did not express any wish to travel 
farther with them, and we certainly should not have 
done so if an accidental circumstance, so to speak, had 
not again ordered it otherwise. 

On account of the heat, I rarely accompanied Heifer 
on his daily rides to the town, and consequently had 

62 Syria and British Burmah. 

not observed the deep impression which constant inter- 
course with the Afghans had made upon him. But 
one morning, as he was bidding me adieu, our hostess 
came and pressingly invited me to accompany her to a 
Greek /^^^ in the town. I was not at all inclined to go, 
made various excuses, and finally urged that my donkey 
w^as lame ; but the kind lady had forestalled this objec- 
tion, and had had her own best donkey saddled for 
me. So I could do no otherwise than go. 

This ride was a turning-point in our lives : had it 
not been for it we should probably never have reached 
India ; perhaps should have been living in Smyrna to 
this day. 

In the city we met the AfFghans, whom Heifer had 
not seen for several days. They told us that they had 
found a vessel for Bey rout, which was to sail next 
morning, and that they were now preparing for their 
departure. Had it not been for this accidental meeting, 
we should never have seen them again, as time would 
not have allowed them to come out to Budja to take 
leave of us. My eye rested on Heifer as he heard the 
w^ords ' take leave,' and the effect they produced on him 
did not escape me. He turned pale, and, making a 
pretext of business, hastily left us. I had seen enough 
to know what it cost him to give up the journey to the 
interior of Asia, and, as it had always been our ulti- 
mate intention to go there, it seemed to me unwise to 
miss so favourable an opportunity. I therefore at once 
made up my mind that we would go, and proceeded 
to lay my plans accordingly. I begged our friends, if 
possible, to postpone their departure for a few days ; 

Residence at Smyrna. 63 

and, as they were deliglited at my decision, they were 
very ready to do so. Sehm Khan hastened to the 
captain of the vessel to induce him to wait, in which 
he found no difficulty. Heifer soon returned, and had 
apparently regained his composure. But never shall 
I forget the expression of his countenance when I met 
him with a smile and said, ' What do you think ? We 
are going with them.' He looked almost hurt that I 
should jest on a subject which so deeply agitated him. 
But when I explained to him that I was in earnest, 
that an arrangement had already been made with the 
captain, and that it now depended solely on himself, 
he could not conceal his delight, and agreed without 

So our lot was decided once more, and we were to 
sacrifice our peaceful abode at Smyrna to Heifer's love 
of exploration, and to go forth to meet an uncertain 

He who once gives himself up to an idea is uncon- 
sciously and impetuously carried away by it ; on and on 
it leads him, and his dazzled eyes cannot see whether 
it is towards attainable ends or delusive phantoms. It 
was an idea that had torn us from a peaceful home and 
beloved friends, and an idea that induced us for the 
second time to leave a life of social pleasures and 
devoid of care in a splendid climate. People often 
ascribe the events of their lives to destiny : I should 
rather ascribe them to devotion to a ruling idea. If it 
had not been for this, how different might have been 
our life at home, our stay at Smyrna ! 

Only two days were allowed us for preparations, 

64 Syria and British Bicrmah. 

and it was well ; for I could not part without sorrow 
from the many friends I had made. They at first 
eagerly tried to dissuade us from our project, but, 
finding that we were immovable, they did all they could 
to help us. Herr Dutil, the Austrian Consul, allowed 
the sale of our goods by auction to take place in his 
courtyard. It was a half-comic, half-tragic spectacle 
to see the things I had become attached to passing into 
other hands. The ladies did not scruple to buy even 
caps, bonnets, dresses, and ribbons that had been worn, 
if they thought them modern and becoming. The 
whole lot was soon bought up, and, to our surprise, 
sold for more than they cost. 

Another no less tragi-comic scene waited me — 
assuming the dress of a Turk. Safety and propriety 
enjoined the laying aside a woman's dress. In the 
East, women can only travel in closed litters, or, if on 
horseback, completely veiled ; and they are of course 
shut out from seeing anything and from all intercourse. 
But I did not wish to go through the beautiful world 
awaiting me, either packed up like a bale of goods, or 
swathed like a mummy : I wanted to see, hear, and 
learn, and this was only possible in the garb of a man. 

My female friends assisted in transforming me into 
a mamaluke. Each one helped to array me in some 
article of the unwonted attire. When the turn of the 
fez and turban came, my thick hair could not possibly 
be thrust into it (besides, under the heavy Persian shawl 
material, the heat would have been intolerable) ; but not 
one of them could bring her mind to use the scissors, 
not even the spirited Marie Perdey, of half Greek, half 

Residence at Smyrna. 65 

English extraction ; and when at length I seized the 
scissors myself and with a resolute hand severed the 
switch of long hair from my head, there was a sound 
of sobbing and lamentation as if they had been be- 
waiHng the dead. It was a ludicrous scene, but perhaps, 
under other circumstances, I might have cried too. 

When at length my toilet was completed, by placing 
a dagger and two pistols in my broad girdle, and I 
looked not unlike a young Turk, I was introduced to 
the circle of acquaintances assembled, among whom 
I found Heifer, also in the costume of a mamaluke. 

We both looked so different that we scarcely re- 
cognised each other, and might therefore hope that 
strangers would not find me out, but that we might 
be taken for brothers. 

VOL. I. P 

66 SyiHa and British Bur^nah. 



The vessel in which we had taken our passage was an 
Arabian one. He who has seen an Arab vessel knows 
what that means ; and no description will enable one 
who has not to form a conception of it : the dirt and 
discomfort are indescribable. I was therefore not a 
little astonished on the morning of our embarkation 
to find a clean deck and a well ventilated, clean, and 
nicely arranged cabin. For this most agreeable sur- 
prise we were indebted to our dear friend Captain 
Owen Stanley, who, with his sailors, had introduced 
perfect English order on board our Arab coaster. The 
captain had looked on with absolute indifference, only 
exclaiming, ' Inch Allah ! ' 

The sails were spread, the wind was fair, the anchor 
weighed. But now a painful parting awaited me — 
from my devoted Lotty. Not long before she had 
engaged herself to a respectable G-erman master saddler 
settled at Smyrna ; they were to be married in a few 
days. Having followed me on board she could not 
tear herself away : she embraced me in tears, and, 
faUing at my feet, entreated me not to leave her behind ; 
she would rather forsake her betrothed and give up a 

Through Beyrotct to Latakieh. 6y 

home tban part from me. It was with the greatest 
difficulty that I persuaded her to join her betrothed, who 
was looking sadly on from the shore ; and I am glad that 
I did so. She is happily married. Enabled with the 
household things I left her to keep a really clean home 
for strangers, she is well off, and has had her sons 
brought up to be clever tradesmen, who have visited 
the Exhibitions in London and Paris. I still receive 
letters from her, bearing witness to her affection. 

After a stay of nearly three months, we left Smyrna, 
where much hospitality had been shown us, on the 29th 
of August. We were again the victims of the treacher- 
ous winds and waves, for the very next day after passing 
the island of Vurla, contrary winds set in and we were 
soon becalmed. 

The voyage was a tedious and unfavourable one. 
Although the vessel was a coaster, we saw nothing of 
the coast except the tops of the mountains of Anatolia, 
But the time passed pleasantly away in the study of the 
Persian language, in which the Affghans instructed us, 
as a knowledge of it was indispensable in their country. 
Besides, their conversation was most interesting ; there 
was no topic on which they could not express an 
opinion with sound sense and judgment, and their 
remarks were often witty and striking. 

We were not permitted to land at Ehodes. The 
European consuls had, on their own authority, placed 
it in quarantine for mutual protection. After a seven 
days' voyage we reached Cyprus and cast anchor, a mile 
or so from land, in the harbour of Lanarka, which is 
only a roadstead and affords no shelter. We were dis- 

F 2 

68 Syria and British Burmah. 

appointed in not seeing the luxurious vineyards whicli 
yield the fine Cyprus wine : at all events there were no 
vineyards in the part of the island we saw ; nothing but 
a sahne and sandy soil, destitute of vegetation. 

Two things only interested us as precursors of the 
southern zone. A few date palms, which, stunted as 
they were, deluded us into the idea that we had entered 
the paradise of a perpetually mild climate, should never 
more suffer from cold, nor see the earth covered with its 
winter winding sheet. Vain dreams ! Before long we 
suffered more from cold than we had ever done in our 
Northern climes. 

The other object of interest was a bright red 
scorpion, which made such rapid movements over the 
hot sandy roads that I sprang out of its way in alarm. 
I regarded it as a specimen of the poisonous rep- 
tiles which excite our childish imaginations in books 
of travel. But in this also I was mistaken, for in later 
wanderings in the thickets of tropical forests, I do not 
remember to have seen such a venomous reptile. 

It had been our intention to leave the vessel, which 
was bound for Beyrout, here, to proceed by boat along 
the coast to Latakieh, and to go thence to Aleppo, the 
rendezvous of the caravans we were to join. 

The strictly enforced quarantine regulations, how- 
ever, under which the whole coast had been placed by 
Ibrahim Pacha — according to which no vessel not coming 
direct from Europe was permitted to land anywhere 
but at Beyrout — made this plan impracticable. So we 
had to submit to the inevitable, and go on to Beyrout. 

Early in the morning of the 12 th of September we 


Thj^ough Beyroict to Latakieh. 69 

came in sight of it and saw the Phoenician coast in the 
early dawn. I quote the excellent description by Carl 
Eitter in his 'Geography,' which cannot be improved 
upon : 

' A uniform range of dark blue hills rises above the 
water, while the purple clouds of sunrise light up the 
sea with fiery hues. If you approach it at sunset, 
however, the snowy peaks of Lebanon are visible, 
illumined with rosy light, and in losing sight of them 
the sailor takes leave of Syria. 

' On a nearer approach, the features of the hills 
become more distinct : valleys and ravines are seen 
clothed with oak, fir, and cedar. Villages appear as 
specks of light on the declivities among the vineyards 
and ohve gardens. 

' During light winds, shoals of medusas are seen near 
the coast, and flying fish hover over the water to escape 
from their enemies the sharks. 

' Above the city rise terraces clothed with the most 
luxuriant productions, from the palms in the warm 
plains near the coast to the regions of perpetual snow. 
Next to the palms come citrons, oranges, pistachios, 
walnut trees, ohve woods, and mulberry plantations. On 
the borders of the plain there are fields of grain, rice, and 
cotton ; these are encircled by vine-clad hills, and the 
majestic pines mark the boundary of the cultivated land, 
which IS enlivened by the songs of blackbirds, thrushes, 
and nightingales, and the loud cries of the bee-eater 
with its brilliant plumage. 

' On the highest point of the mountains, with their 
prosperous communities and numerous flocks and herds, 

70 Syria and British Burmah, 

the order of pines attains, on the borders of the rich 
Alpine pastures of Lebanon, its noblest form in the 
famous cedar forest of Jebel Makmel.' 

The institution of quarantine, hitherto unknown in 
Mussulman countries, contrary to their rehgion, and 
consequently under the supervision of the foreign con- 
suls, was very strictly observed. It has four times 
protected Syria from the plague. 

We had scarcely cast anchor when an officer of 
public safety came on board and gave us our choice, 
whether we would perform quarantine on board ship, 
in which case guards would be placed over us, or in the 

Heartily tired of our voyage, we chose the latter, 
and were at once conducted thither by the guard, 
without going near the town, which was almost con- 
cealed by fohage. 

The quarantine buildings were on a pretty high 
rocky promontory, against which the dark blue sea 
broke in waves of foam. Fresh sea breezes, inter- 
nnngled with those coming from the heights of 
Lebanon, encircled the place : there could scarcely 
be a more healthy or pleasanter spot for a lazaretto. 
But the building was in a most unfinished state : 
350 Egyptian soldiers were at work on it and the 

Through the influence of the French Consul, to whom 
Heifer had sent his letter of introduction, two rooms 
were allotted to us which were intended for the ladies 
of the seraglio of Soliman Pacha, the famous general 
of Mehmed Ali, a native of France. 

ThroiLgk BeyroiU to Latakieh, 

We pleased ourselves with the idea of the far-famed 
luxury of a seraglio, but were greatly disappointed : 
we found nothing but bare walls and clean floors — a 
great privilege, however, in Syria. 

We made ourselves as comfortable as we could ; we 
put bricks together for the support of a table, and 
placed a door on them for the top. Window frames 
served for seats, and, with our ship mattresses upon 
them, for beds also. Dinner was to be served upon a 
straw mat, if any dinner was to be had ; about this, 
however, our guard did not trouble himself in the 

Fortunately we were allowed to wander about freely 
in the whole quarantine space, and, from the defective 
fences, had free access to a large vineyard adjoining. 
The grapes were most inviting, and hunger overcame; 
all scruples about tasting them. They were so delicious 
and satisfying, that we felt ourselves already in the 
promised land which was so near. 

At length we found the owner, to whom we con- 
fessed our theft and offered remuneration, at which he 
was much surprised. He not only entirely declined it, 
but helped us to procure more substantial food from 
the city during our quarantine. 

Our hospitable neighbour was a Druze, and through 
him we made acquaintance with the character of this 
people under its best aspect. He possessed lands and 
numerous flocks among the mountains, and only came 
down at the time of the vintage, for the liberty-loving 
Druzes are not fond of leaving the hill country. Through 
frequent intercourse with the city and connection with 

72 Syria and Bi^itish Bunnah. 

its trade, he could speak the Turkish language fluently, 
which was a means of communication between him and 

The Druzes are a fine race, full of energy, dowered 
with good mental powers, brave, honourable, and 
hospitable. The traveller or fugitive who seeks refuge 
with them is sure of a safe asylum. 

As owners of their mountain lands, they consider 
themselves as independent lords of the soil, and cultivate 
it diligently ; whereas the inhabitants of the plains are 
only tenants under Government. 

Although outwardly they profess Islamism, they 
hold doctrines of their own, which they keep a profound 
secret. They receive with interest the teaching of 
Christian missionaries, and have even established schools 
in connection with the American mission among the 
mountains. The missionaries would be able to labour 
much more effectually among them if it were not for 
the jealousy of the Christian Maronites. The Maronites, 
althouofh no national or external differences exist 
between them and the rest of the inhabitants of the 
mountains, are distinguished by their rehgious fanati- 
cism ; they are under the bigoted rule of their priests, 
who cover their beautiful country with convents ; and 
to them they offer the best fruits of their industry. 

To our regret we were prevented from making any 
excursions in the neighbourhood or from visiting the 
city, which, from its historical interest, we should have 
liked to see ; but it is little in accord with the charming 
environs, and the style of its buildings is hke that of 
most of the cities of the I^evant. The streets are dark 

Tlii'ough Bey rout to Latakieh. 

and crooked, tlie houses mean and rough ; one would 
never suppose that some of them are inhabited by 

The great mosque, built by the Christians, formerly 
the church of St. John, which served the Crusaders for 
their church festivals, towers above the houses and the 
thick foKage. It brings before the mind's eye the past 
history of this once important city and its varied 
destinies. Founded in very early times, it was en- 
larged by Eoman emperors ; and, selected by Herod 
Agrippa as the seat of his voluptuous court, Beyrout 
became the scene of bloody festivals, in one of which 700 
criminals slaughtered each other for the amusement of 
the spectators, and even Titus celebrated his father's 
birthday here by the execution of some thousands of 
rebel Jews. 

It is curious that it was upon this blood-stained soil 
that Eoman learniug established its seat. Up to the 
sixth century the most renowned legal school of the 
empire, known for its moral strictness and discipline, 
flourished at Beyrout; it reared the first jurists and 
statesmen, and was called a Mother of Wisdom. But 
this prosperity was not to last. What was not destroyed 
by the hand of man was ravaged by the fearful earth- 
quake of 529, which desolated nearly the whole of 
Syria, and in which the greater part of the inhabitants 
and students of Beyrout lost their lives. 

The city has never flourished since that time. It fell 
in turn under the dominion of the Arabs, Crusaders, 
Turks, and Druzes, and was alternately rebuilt and 

74 Syria and British Burmah, 

This went on until, in 1840, the EngUsh fleet ex- 
pelled Mehmed All's troops. In spite of all these 
disasters, however, Beyrout entertains hopes that, if a 
regeneration of the East should take place, it would 
again be one of the most important points of these 
classic shores. Its favourable situation in the centre of 
the Phoenician coast, its natural beauties, the fertility of 
the soil, as well as the industry and capabilities of the 
inhabitants, justify these hopes. 

Perhaps the time may not be far distant when these 
gifted but fanatical people, misguided by Islamism and 
bigoted monasticism, wnll again attain prosperity and 
true civilisation. But then they must not be objects of 
petty jealousies among European powers, and Christian 
missionaries must aim less at making proselytes than at 
educating men. 

We were disturbed in our peaceful asylum and dili- 
gent study of Persian and Hindoostanee by a rumour 
that a regiment of Egyptian soldiers was coming to 
perform quarantine there. The report was confirmed 
on enquiry of the French Consul, who told us, with 
many assurances of sympathy, that we could not keep 
the rooms any longer, for they would certainly be re- 
quired by the officers It was impossible to permit us 
to enter the town before the expiration of our term of 
quarantine, but, as a longer stay at the lazaretto was 
impossible, he would, if we would venture on secret 
flight, keep a vessel bound for Latakieh in the harbour 
ready for us. We were referred to a fisherman, who 
would conduct us by a private smugglers' path to the 
shore and take us on board in his fishing boat. 

Through Bey rout to Latakieh. 75 

Dangerous as secret flight from quarantine always 
is, it was doubly so under the ruthless rule of Ibrahim 
Pacha in Syria : a human life was nothing to him ; it 
was only the ambition to make a name for himself and 
to invest himself with a nimbus of European civilisa- 
tion that induced him to imitate European institutions. 

But no choice was left us. To stay was impossible ; 
the flight must be risked. We reckoned chiefly on the 
laxity of our guards and their love of gold. Our 
neighbour, the owner of the vineyard, was won over 
to our project, from hatred of the stern ruler who 
monopolised every branch of industry and sorely 
oppressed the people, not by the profiered sum of 
money : this he entirely declined for himself, but did 
not refuse a backsheesh for his servant, who was to 
carry our luggage. 

On the 19th of September we prepared for flight. 
It was very difficult to persuade the Afighans to it : in 
true Eastern fashion they preferred to submit passively 
to any inconvenience rather than courageously to escape 
from it. But on our representing to them that they 
must remain behind alone, and that coming from Smyrna 
they would probably be takeu for Turkish spies, they 

The guards nearest to us were won. Our scanty 
possessions were concealed among the vine-trellises in 
the garden, and we ostensibly retired early to rest, 
closed the doors and shutters, put out the lights, and 
sat in profound stillness. Nothing is more calculated 
to damp the spirits and fill the mind with anxious fore- 
bodings than to have to sit idly in the dark while 

7 6 Syria and British Burmak. 

awaiting the hour for a hazardous enterprise The 
minutes seemed hke hours ; our hearts beat audibly ; we 
listened anxiously for every sound. Heifer must have 
struck his repeater a hundred times before it indicated 
the appointed hour of twelve. He led the way, keep- 
ing close to the wall, I followed, then Selim Khan, and 
last his brother. The brightness of the night, which, 
even when there is no moon, had so delighted me before, 
was now alarming — we could recognise each other at 
fifty or sixty paces off; but we reached the vineyards, 
Avhich concealed us from prying eyes, without waking 
the guards, and there we found our guide, whom we 
quickly followed by the appointed path to the edge of 
the promontory. Here the fisherman, who had fastened 
his boat below, was waiting for us with another active 
man ; and this was necessary enough, for if we had 
hitherto had only to exercise passive courage, we had 
now to put it in action. 

From a rocky cliff, sixty feet high, rising perpen- 
dicularly out of the sea, against which the waves beat 
with a loud roar, a kind of stairway led down in a 
slanting direction. The steps, worn and slippery and 
several feet high, looked impracticable. ' Must we 
climb down here ? Impossible ! It is madness ! ' we 
exclaimed. And yet it had to be done. Eeturn was 
out of the question : our guides would not have con- 
sented to it for their own sakes. Happily there was no 
time to think about it. The fisherman seized me in his 
nervous arms, and, as if I had been a feather, went 
down the perilous path, up which, perhaps, he had often 
carried heavier burdens of smuggled goods ; Heifer 

Through Bey rout to Latakieh. jj 

followed, trusting to his own agility, and the Affghans 
closed the procession, submissively following their 
leaders. Not a word was uttered ; each one knew 
that a single false step must be death. At length we 
reached a platform, where there was firm footing, and 
took breath for a few moments. We then went on 
more quickly, until w^e w^re in a little cave in which 
the boat was concealed. Who can describe our feelings 
when we looked up the giddy height and could justly 
estimate the perils we had escaped ! 

Having expressed our gratitude to the vine-grower 
by a pressure of the hand — for he still declined remunera- 
tion, — we got into the boat ; and vigorous strokes of the 
oar soon conveyed us to the ship. But before we 
reached it, the sound of guns from the lazaretto gave 
notice that our escape had been discovered and that 
we were being pursued. Whether it was in earnest, 
or whether the guards were anxious to prove their 
watchfulness by giving alarm after the fact, we did not 
know ; we, however, were safe on board the coaster. 

The captain received us with alt the respect due to 
the recommendation of a consul at Bey rout. He was 
a stout, prosperous looking Turk, attired in an orange- 
coloured silk caftan with green stripes, ample trousers, 
with a variegated pattern on them, and yellow slippers. 
His head-dress was a red fez with a huge green turban, 
the sign of a pilgrimage to Mecca. His thick curly 
beard reached to his breast. He had prepared his only 
cabin for our reception ; but, alas, it had not been 
cleaned and put m order by English sailors ! On de- 
scending the first steps leading down to it I staggered 

78 Syria and British Burmah. 

back, stupified by the combination of smells, which 
might have been accumulating for years. They arose 
from garlic, salt fish, tar, and oil, mingled with the scent 
of lemons, spices, rose leaves, and bunches of dried 
lavender. Beside all this, there was a crowd of human 
beings, mostly Jews and Egyptian soldiers. 

Although our cabin was divided off from the rest of 
the space, the atmosphere was the same, and it was 
impossible to stay there a minute. Happily in the 
East there is never any lack of coverlets, rugs, and 
cushions, and with the aid of these we made ourselves 
comfortable on a part of the poop which was consider- 
ably raised above the fore-deck. We were separated 
by curtains from the rest of the passengers : only the 
captain took his place at the wheel near us, the 
two Affghans, and a smartly dressed Frenchman, who 
politeh^ introduced himself as the head cook of His 
Highness Ibrahim Pacha, whom he was about to follow 
to Aleppo. 

We could not lay in provisions when in quarantine, 
and had nothing to look forward to but the ship's fare — 
hard biscuit, dried dates, fresh olives, and old goat's- 
milk cheese, — of which I could not bring myself to 
partake till driven by hunger. Our Parisian cook, on 
the contrary, had with him a large store of provisions 
wherewith to prepare dainties for his master's table, 
and, having a capacious chafing dish, could, under any 
circumstances, prepare an inviting repast. The interest 
which I e\inced in his skill seemed to fiatter him not a 
little, for when the meal was ready he gave us a press- 
ing invitation to partake of it. We felt no scruple 


Through Bey rout to Latakieh. 79 

about being entertained on the pacha's provisions behind 
his back, and helped ourselves freely to the delicate 
viands. This unexpected piece of good fortune, like so 
many others which had befallen us, raised our drooping 
spirits and revived our hopes. Man often thinks and 
feels very differently before and after a meal. 

The captain turned the wheel mechanically back- 
vrards and forwards, without being able to seethe prow 
of the vessel. The rusty compass did not move ; which, 
however, he did not regard, for, when Heifer called his 
attention to it, he only nodded and slowly stroked his 
leg under the knee with the back of his hand — an 
inimitable pantomime, peculiar to the Turks, expressive 
of various things for which other nations employ many 
words ; most frequently, however, it denotes contempt 
for what they hear, especially from the lips of a giaour. 

Heifer remarked again that a ship could not be 
guided without a compass, when he coolly replied that 
the Great Bear was a surer compass to him, adding, with 
a mysterious smile, that he did not require any guide. 
I thought he meant that, being near land, he could see 
the right course ; but he was trusting to other, invisible, 

After sunset — diuring which he reverently performed 
his devotions, kneehng on a fine carpet spread before 
him, — he took out of his doublet a painted tablet with 
characters upon it, and hung it round his neck. He 
then turned the vessel seawards^ made the helm fast, 
and lay down to sleep as peacefully as a child. 

Heifer could not refrain from asking what he was 
thinking of. ' Of going to sleep,' he answered, with 

8o Syria and British Bzcrmah. 

perfect coolness. ' But who is to guide the vessel 
during the night ? ' 'The wind,' was the reply, as he 
turned on the other side. ' But if the wind should 
change, what then ? ' To this he vouchsafed no answer, 
but pointed to his tablet and fell asleep. 

This time his amulet made good its claims : a fair 
wind took us during the afternoon of the following day 
into the harbour of Latakieh. How easily and quickly 
the voyage may now be made round this interesting 
coast by the comfortable steamers which provide regular 
communication in these waters ! 

There was an unusual stir in the harbour of Lata- 
kieh : hordes of Egyptian soldiers were being dis- 
embarked, lately enlisted, or rather taken prisoners, hi 
their native land to fight for Mehmed Ali in Syria. 

There were Nubians, with their flat, sphinx-like faces 
and narrow eyes, their coarse black hair, greased with 
mutton fat and wound round a kind of wick, hanging 
down to their shoulders on either side of their flat 
cheek bones, like a wig of spiral curls. Then came 
Abyssinians, tall and slender, with regular Caucasian 
features, but their skin of an ash-grey colour, their long 
dark eyelashes giving them an expression of profound 
melancholy. They were all in rags which barely 
covered them. They were driven, fastened two and 
two, alonof the distance from the harbour to the town. 
The road, planted with olive trees, and abutting on 
extensive gardens, forms a beautiful walk. The houses 
are almost hidden in foliage ; only the mosques and a 
few date palms rear their heads above it. 

But there was no time to linger over these novel 

Th7'ough Bey rout to Latakieh. 81 

sights ; we had to hasten to seek shelter, for the captain 
had told us on sailing that there was just then no room 
for strangers at Latakieh, all the khans, and even the 
private houses, in which we might have found accom- 
modation before, being laid under requisition by the 
new ruler. Heifer remembered that the convents in 
Syria were renowned for their hospitable reception of 
travellers, and resolved, as an orthodox Catholic 
Christian, to seek shelter in a Franciscan convent not 
far off, to introduce me as his brother, and to beg 
quarters also for our Mussulman companions, who, of 
course, had first to consent not to mention the Prophet 
during their stay in the convent. 

By the aid of a few piastres we found a guide, who 
conducted us to the large but desolate looking building. 
It was shut off from the street by a long, high wall, with 
no opening but one inconspicuous door. On this door 
hung a hammer, with which Heifer struck three hearty 
blows on the metal plate beneath, making the knocks 
resound far within. 

We had not long to wait before a sliding shutter 
in the upper part of the door was opened, and an old 
monk cautiously stretched out his round face and bare 
head, which, however, he hastily withdrew on seeing 
four Mussulmans. He was about to close the shutter, 
when the Christian salutation, 'Laudatur Jesus Christus,' 
met his ear, and the expression of his face changed, as 
if by magic, from fear to surprise. He stared at us, 
uncertain whether to trust this greeting from a turbaned 
head, until Heifer explained in Italian that we were 
not enemies, but Frank travellers, who had only adopted 

VOL. I. G 

82 Syria and British Burmah. 

tlie Turkisli dress for safety, and begged for shelter 
because the city was full of Egyptian soldiers. The 
monk now opened the door and bade us welcome ; but 
told us, with a shrug of the shoulders, that a roof and 
a hard couch were all he had to offer us, for he only 
lived on charitable gifts from Christian families in the 
town. ' Whether this,' he added, with a significant 
glance at me, ' will suit the young gentleman there, I 
do not know.' The old man showed much acuteness 
by the rapidity with which he had seen through my 
disguise ; up to this time I believed that I had always 
been taken for a young Turk. But seeing my alarm 
lest he should refuse to receive me into the convent, he 
said to me, ' Come in ; I will make it as comfortable for 
you as I can.' And he kept his word. 

For fifteen years he had lived alone in the convent ; 
for fifteen years no fire had been lighted in the great 
empty kitchen, the refectory had not been aired, the 
cells and corridors had not been cleaned : birds and 
spiders had undisturbed possession of them, and the 
windows were scarcely transparent. We passed through 
a long passage, the floor of which echoed our footsteps 
and broke the grave-like silence for the first time for 
many a day. 

At the end of the passage, he led us into two adjoin- 
ing cells, in no better condition than the rest ; but when 
he opened the windows there was a splendid view over 
fruit gardens to the open sea. 

The good old man was gratified with our admira- 
tion ; he was proud that even his convent should have 
something beautiful to show. 


Through BeyrotU to Latakieh. S3 

He now hastened into the town, to some of the 
faithful of his httle flock, to procure provisions for us, 
and soon came back laden with good bread, wine, and 
delicious fruits, followed by a servant, who brought soft 
cushions from the neighbouring house of a Christian 
merchant and prepared couches for us. 

The next day Father Antonio, at our request, found 
us a travelling servant amongst his community. Pietro 
Giacomo, a native of Malta, was a shrewd and well- 
trained fellow. He was to be our guide to Aleppo, 
but first, convent cook, and he addressed himself to 
his task with great alacrity. The materials were soon 
collected for an ample dinner, a bright fire was kindled 
on the long desolate hearth, the refectory was swept 
and aired, the table laid, and at twelve o'clock dinner 
was served. I shall never forget the beaming face of 
the good padre as he took his seat as our guest at his 
own table, and seldom have I fulfilled the duties of 
hostess with more real satisfaction, or taken more 
pleasure in the enjoyment of my guests, than when I 
figured as housewife in the convent. 

The old man's heart was opened, his eyes sparkled, 
and he was quite eloquent ; he even became more 
sociable with the Afghans, of whom he had been rather 
shy, as he evidently regarded them as real Mussulmans. 

Destined from childhood for the Church, he was 
brought up in the Seminary at Eome, then became a 
pupil in the mission scliool, and, in obedience to the 
superior, entered this convent as the youngest brother. 
It was at that time occupied by numerous ecclesiastics, 
and had an extensive sphere of labour. By degrees 

84 Syria and British Burmak. 

this diminislied : the number of monks and their influ- 
ence dedined ; many were removed to other places, 
until at length Antonio closed the eyes of his last com- 
panion. For fifteen years since then he had lived alone 
within these gloomy walls, and had to be porter and 
sacristan and to wait upon himself at the mass. And 
yet how contented he seemed, and with what humihty 
he submitted to his fate ! ' It cannot be helped,' he 
said ; and therewith every earthly desire seemed to be 

I cannot describe the deep impression the cheerful 
resignation of this monk made upon me, and with what 
humiliation I compared it with my own restless heart. 

In spite of his isolation he was by no means apa- 
thetic : he hstened with great interest to Heifer's nar- 
rationSj and when cities and countries were mentioned 
he fetched an old book. ' ISTow,' he said, ' tell me all 
about them, and I shall follow you everywhere.' It 
was an old well-worn ' Gazetteer,' in Italian — the only 
book in the house except the Breviary and Missals. 
He studied it at his leisure, and thus lived in the world 
he had never seen. 

The next morniug he accompanied us as guide into 
the town, which contained many ancient ruins. Speci- 
ally remarkable are the numerous catacombs, dating 
from the most remote times, on the north and west 
sides of the town ; they are excavated in the rocks, and 
are so extensive that there would be room for a whole 
generation in them. The number and careful con- 
struction of these catacombs afford evidence of the 
former large population and wealth of Latakieh. Bones 

Throicgh Beyrout to Lalakieh, 85 

are no longer found in them. One of the largest is 
called Mur Tekleh, after Saint Thecla, a martyr, who is 
said to have taken refuge in it. Saint Thecla's day is 
still kept by the Christians. 

These catacombs served the early Christians, during 
the persecutions, as asylums and dwelling-places : they 
are very much concealed, are dry and roomy, and some 
even have wells in them. 

The population of Latakieh is said to be from six 
to seven thousand, of whom about one thousand are 
Christians, one thousand Maronites and Armenians, and 
the rest Mussulmans. In addition to their ten mosques, 
the latter had lately built a splendid new one on the 
hill on which the citadel stands, in honour of their 
sainted Sheikh Mugreby, who is said to have made a 
pilgrimage to Mecca every week. It is approached by 
an imposing flight of steps, adorned with painted win- 
dows and a pulpit with fine marble steps. The chief 
mollah has to deliver here as orthodox a Mussulman 
sermon as possible every Thursday, and to stir up the 
people against unbelievers. 

The town contains some well-built houses ; the 
consulates, bearing the flags of England, France, Italy, 
and other European powers, are specially handsome. 
The Christians regard them mth great satisfaction, as, 
to the annoyance of the Turks, they find them a 
protection against insults from them. 

Our host told us much of the fanaticism of the 
Mussulmans here, and described them as the most 
intolerant in Syria. ' They have several times plun- 
dered our convent^' he said : ' what they could nc^t 

86 Sy7'ia and British BurmaJt. 

make use of and drag away they destroyed ; but now 
that there is nothing left but the bare walls they leave 
us alone. They also persecuted the rest of the Christians, 
who were often obliged to fly and take refuge in the 
neic^hbourino^ island of Euad. » 

The island of Euad, the Aroa of the ancients, is a 
remarkable spot — a little rocky island rising abruptly 
out of the waves. It is the same as Arvad, mentioned 
by Ezekiel as alhed to the Phoenicians.^ Amidst all 
the pohtical changes of the neighbouring continent its 
brave, liberty loving inhabitants have maintained their 
independence, which has enabled them to afford a 
secure asylum to many political refugees. The island 
is destitute of vegetation ; it contains a mass of houses 
several storeys high, surrounded by a colossal wall 
built of huge blocks of stone, and it possesses a harbour 
which, from its natural situation and fortifications, bids 
defiance to the approach of a foe. 

This hardy race of seamen became rich and power- 
ful by means of extensive commerce. Formerly under 
kings of their own, and afterwards under presidents 
elected by themselves, the inhabitants maintained them- 
selves as an independent little State, until, in the last 
war, it sided with the Turks against Ibrahim Pacha, who, 
as master of the coast, gave the word of command for 
sacking the island, and it was only saved by the English 
fleet. The inhabitants are renowned as swimmers and 
divers : it is to them we owe much of our finest sponge, 
which they detach from rocks at the bottom of the sea 
at a great depth. They cannot, however, remain so long 

^ Ezekiel xxvii. 8-11. 

Through Bey rout to Latakieh. 87 

under water as tlie pearl divers of Ceylon. It is so 
exhausting that few even of these muscular men can 
stand it for more than a year. 

We paid a visit to the Christian merchant whose 
cushions had furnished us with soft couches. He had 
evidently been apprised of our intention, for he had left 
the dark little office in which he spent the day engrossed 
in business, and had joined his family in the inner 
court, paved with marble, under the shade of chestnuts 
and cypresses. There were pomegranates and roses in 
bloom, and in the centre the waters of a clear fountain 
fell into an artistic marble basin. 

These courts with their grateful coolness and shade 
are a great comfort — the only one, indeed, of which the 
dwellings of the most wealthy families can boast ; for 
inside the houses there is nothing but bare white- 
washed walls and divans of straw or reeds covered with 
pushions. The rooms are mostly dark and close, for 
they are seldom aired. 

Three youthful forms and an older lady were 
sitting near the fountain, two of them occupied in 
winding silk ; the other, evidently the youngest, was 
weaving pomegranate blossoms into her sister's dark 
hair. She was a lovely creature, slender and graceful as 
a Hebe, her face of the finest oval, her complexion 
transparent and tinted with peach colour, her gazelle 
eyes shaded by long dark lashes, her brow by fair hair 
hanging in wavy locks, to the ends of which were 
fastened gold coins, producing a faint jingle with every 
movement. Although prepared for our visit, they were 
evidently surprised by our entrance : the ladies were 

88 Syria and British Burmah. 

embarrassed to find themselves in the presence of four 
Turks, and the lovely Hebe hid her face behind 
her mother, only raising her head from curiosity now 
and then to have a peep at us. The salutations with 
the master were ceremonious and reserved. Perhaps 
he did not feel secure, owing to former experience^ 
from Turkish arbitrariness and greed, and Heifer's 
short communication as to the objects of our journey 
did not suffice to inspire him with confidence. At all 
events, he eyed us sharply and exchanged many sus- 
picious glances with Padre Antonio. 

With his hands crossed over his breast and the 
customary prostrations, Heifer introduced me to the 
ladies as his wife. For a little while they eyed me with 
scrutinising incredulity ; and only when he assured them 
that I had undertaken the journey of my own free will 
and from afiection for him, and had from necessity 
adopted male costume, did they become more sociable ; 
but still they shook their heads. The notion of a 
woman travelling through the world in man's attire 
was too remote from all their ideas. 

I saw that the little one had some scheme in her 
head, for she several times whispered some words of 
Arabic into her father's ear, looking archly at me. She 
might have spoken aloud, for we did not understand a 
word of Arabic. On Heifer's asking what she wished, the 
master said, turning to me : ' The silly girl wants to see 
you in a woman's dress, and would like to dress you 
herself ; you must pardon her childishness.' ' I will 
let her dress me with pleasure,' I answered. These 
words put some life into the group. The girls sprang 

Through Beyrout to Latakieh. 89 

from their seats and hastened into the inner apartments. 
They wore, buckled on to their feet, a kind of stilt-hke 
stool with four thin legs about a span high, on which 
they balanced themselves with extraordinary ease and 
grace, like tendrils in the wind. The reason of this 
probably is that the marble floors are watered several 
times a day and are often quite wet. But I do not 
know whether they are in general use ; I only saw them 
in this house. 

The girls took me into their sleeping apartment, 
which, instead of beds, only contained benches covered 
with cushions. The eldest, who was about my size, 
fetched her smartest dress, while the two younger ones 
busied themselves in taking off the mamaluke garb so 
distasteful to them. After this had been done, a chemise, 
made of a kind of crepe de Chine^ with very long, wide 
sleeves, was put on ; then pantaloons of pink satin, a 
tunic of thick flowered silk interwoven with ofold 
threads, and over this a short sky blue silk jacket 
embroidered with gold. A costly Persian shawl, folded 
crossways, was tied round my hips, instead of thrown 
over the shoulders in European fashion, and fastened in 
a knot in front, so that the ends hung down long, while 
the two broad corners reached to my knees, looking 
not unhke a miner's leathern apron. Finally, I had to 
put on a number of heavy gold chains, richly adorned 
with gold coins, which reached to the waist. Now all 
was complete but the head-dress. My busy lady's maids 
sadly missed my long hair; and when I explained to 
them by signs why I had myself cut it off, they looked 
at me with amazement — almost aversion, — and tried to 

90 ' Syria and British Bu7^niah. 

hide the defect by a httle red fez and a bright blue 
gauze shawl, embroidered with gold stars, put on turban 
fashion. Thus decked out they were dehghted with me ; 
they admired and caressed me, danced with joy, and 
played no end of childish freaks. At last I was to be 
exhibited to ray husband, that he might see how much 
more beautiful I was in this attire. They had even 
buckled on the stilts over my yellow morocco shoes ; and 
as I could not walk in them without help, they took 
me under the arms and led me out in triumph to Heifer, 
who, of course, did not fail highly to admire my toilet. 
We were now quite sociable — I was treated like an old 
friend ; coffee and chibouks, whose aromatic vapours 
were inhaled by the lady of the house, increased the 
general satisfaction, and it was late before we separated, 
after I had taken off my fine clothes. The girls looked 
sadly on, and, on taking leave, they could not bring 
themselves to embrace me, lavish as they had been of 
their caresses before. 

How lovely these girls were, and how charming their 
unaffected childishness seemed, compared with the airs 
of the belles of European salons ! But what was the 
fate that awaited them ? They were all three betrothed, 
though scarcely grown up, to men whom they had never 
seen, perhaps more likely to inspire aversion than affec- 
tion, and who, at all events, would be more bent on suc- 
cess in their commercial undertakings than on making 
their young wives happy. And this is still the lot of 
Christian women in the East. 

We were warned on all hands to be on our guard, 
on the way to Aleppo, in passing through the territory 

Through Bey rout to Latakieh. 91 

of the Nazarenes. Although Ibrahim Pacha's iron fist 
ruled this race and punished every misdeed with ruth- 
less severity, still their country was dangerous, and, but 
a short time before, no traveller alone would have ven- 
tured to go from Latakieh to Jebili, though the one place 
is in sight from the other. The Nazarenes and Ishmaelites, 
descendants of ancient native tribes, have the worst 
reputation as brigands. Is is said of them that they 
would not hesitate to rob their brothers or mother. 
Strongly built, and inured to every hardship and pri- 
vation, always persecuted and oppressed by the rulers 
of Syria, they have yet enjoyed a kind of consideration, 
mingled wixh dread, among their mountain fastnesses. 

The Ishmaelites, distinguished by their relentless 
pursuit of their enemies, were called assassins by the 
Crusaders, smce many Christian princes and generals 
had perished by their daggers. 

The Nazarenes have a considerable territory be- 
tween the Orontes as far as the sea and Latakieh, with 
many almost inaccessible mountain strongholds, among 
which towers Massejed, the seat of their chief 

Both sects are opponents of Mahomet and wor- 
shippers of Ali, but they hate each other with a deadly 
hatred, and are always ready to betray each other to 
their common foe. Both keep their dogmas strictly 
secret, and cannot be induced to disclose their rehgious 
mysteries even by violence and torture. 

The spiritual chief of the Nazarenes is considered to 
be infalhble, and held in the greatest veneration. He 
who is elected to this dignity is instructed as a boy 
in reading and writing, and is taught to look upon 

92 Syria and B7ntish Burmah. 

martyrdom for his faitli as the highest merit. No 
suffering will extort the sacred mystery from him. 
Amidst the cruellest tortures he will only reply : ' Try ! 
cut my heart out of my body, and see if you find any- 
thing there ! ' 

The characteristics I have given of these wild moun- 
tain tribes must be ascribed to the absence of all moral 
and religious training. Persecuted and despised, they 
are subject to the yoke of the fanatical followers of 
Mahomet, and live amidst ceaseless feuds among them- 
selves. But, nevertheless, they exhibit many noble 
qualities and show great aptitude for culture. They 
are hospitable and polite to strangers who approach 
them with confidence, and who do not excite their 
rapacity by the sight of valuables. Their sheikhs, who 
exercise hospitality in the name of the tribe, they revere 
as saints, and erect numerous monuments over their 

The English Consul, Mr. Barker, who, after a resi- 
dence of many years in Syria was intimately acquainted 
with the people, asserted that he had found Nazarene 
servants as faithful and honest as Christians and Moslems. 
They were brave, trustworthy, and industrious, even 
open and communicative ; it was only on religious sub- 
jects that they were reserved, and could on no account 
be induced to make any disclosures. 

Mr. Barker gave practical proof of his opinion of 
their aptitude for culture. After fifty years of active 
business life he retired into the plain of Suweidieh, 
which extends along the coast of Syria from the mouth 
of the Orontes, and eastward from Seleucia, for ten 

Through Bey rout to Latakieh. 93 

English miles inland, inhabited by a mixed population, 
mostly Greeks and Armenians. By untiring efforts he 
turned it into a garden of Eden, whose rich natural 
products were increased by cultivation. 

The huts of the inhabitants lie scattered on the 
shores of the Orontes, amidst plantations of oranges, 
lemons, and mulberry trees. They are a vigorous race, 
and the women handsome ; they sliow more pohteness 
and goodwill to strangers than to their Arabic speaking 

Barker introduced a system of high cultivation ; 
the finest fruits of the earth flourished in his domains. 
Products of China, the Indian Archipelago, etc., throve 
here as in their native climes, and flowers of every zone 
adorned the grounds, from the plains to the summer 
country seats on Jebel Musa and Akra. He introduced 
the cultivation of the mulberry, Italian cocoons, and a 
better method of manipulating the silk — the production 
of which had greatly increased, and had become a source 
of prosperity to the people, who needed no longer to live 
from plunder, but could hospitably entertain strangers, 
like their master. 

The ISTazarenes were also ready to receive instruction 
from the English missionaries, so long as they sought 
only to teach, not to convert them. They had been dis- 
posed to establish schools, but had taken care that the 
boys should not be led to adopt another rehgion, by 
the instructions conveyed, before they could judge for 

They always replied to the missionary, Mr. Thomson, 
to whom they were much indebted for their education, 

94 Syria and British Burmah. 

in conversation on their religion : ' We love Christ and 
Moses : your religion is the same as ours.' But no 
sooner had they attained their object — some remedy for 
theii" sick, perhaps, — than they mounted their horses 
and rode back to their mountains. The better educated 
among them, however, saw the advantages of more 
cultivation and the favour which they would thereby 
gain with the European consuls, and were said to be 
disposed to promote the establishment of a mission 
school near Latakieh. Let us hope that this has been 
accomplished, and that a blessing has rested upon it 
from above. 

We had great difficulty in getting animals for our- 
selves and our baggage, as every riding horse or beast 
of burden was in requisition — by fair means or foul — by 
the myrmidons of Ibrahim Pacha, for the transport of 
his soldiers. Our Giacomo, however, well acquainted 
with all the mule drivers and their tricks, contrived 
to help us out, and succeeded in secreting five riding 
horses and a pack horse out of the way of the troops ; 
but, in order not to run the risk of being robbed of 
them in the streets, we had to steal out of the city on 


yoicrney to Aleppo and Birejik. 95 



We left Latakieh at daybreak on the 25th of Septem- 
ber. Our good Padre Antonio had become attached to 
us, and our table had suited him so well that he was 
sorry to part with us ; but, finding that his efforts to 
detain us were vain, he accompanied us to the convent 
gate. The vast building, with its inner and outer courts, 
lay still in deep shadow; perfect stillness reigned, 
broken only by the echo of our footsteps. He turned 
the rusty key and opened the creaking door, but before 
we passed through it, he placed his hands on our heads 
and, with agitated voice, gave us his benediction ; he 
even extended it to our Mussulman friends. Then, 
turning hastily away, he closed the door, and therewith 
ended one section of our journey. We had found here 
a safe asylum and even kindness ; it renewed our trust, 
and we went on in good heart, until, not far from the 
town, we found our beasts concealed in the thickets and 
mounted without delay in order to escape as soon as 
possible from the range of the soldiery. 

We soon began to ascend the heights of the 
Nazarene hills by bad roads bordered with brushwood, 
mostly box and myrtle. Fine hills and luxuriant plains 

96 Syria and British Burmak. 

adorned with laurels, arbutus, plane, and cherry trees, 
opened to view. A few huts, built of mud or sun-dried 
tiles, were picturesquely concealed among them. But 
their inhabitants, although accustomed to ever new and 
increasing oppression, had deserted them, in order to 
escape by flight the hardest fate of all — being pressed 
into Ibrahim Pacha's army. All the men capable of 
bearing arms had fled to the mountains, where his 
myrmidons could not so easily follow them. 

As far as the first station, Ghaf^r Awenad, the river 
of Latakieh, Nahr el Kebir (the powerful ; so called 
from the rushing mass of water it often contains), had 
made way for itself through a rocky defile, through 
which our road lay ; but, being autumn, we saw only 
the dry pebbly bed. 

After a ride of five hours we came to Baluligeh, or 
Bahlulie, where, on account of the healthy climate and 
fine scenery, the wealthy families of Latakieh have their 
country houses ; but they were now all closed and 
deserted. We found, however, grapes, cucumbers, and 
goats' milk, which, with the provisions we brought 
with us, furnished us with a refreshing meal. 

Tiring as the ride had been up the steep ascent on 
our over- worked horses, we could not rest long : we had 
to hasten to reach a caravan before darkness set in, with 
the leaders of which we had agreed to make the journey 
together for safety, and it was still some hours in 
advance. It was late in the evening when we came up 
with it, and found our first night quarters, after a 
ride of about twenty-two miles, in Ghafär Awenad. 
Here we found Egyptian soldiers as outposts, but 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 97 

nothing but the bare walls of the large khan, which, 
however, may perhaps have offered more accommoda- 
tion to travellers in former times. 

We had scarcely performed a fourth part of the 
distance (about ninety-three miles) between Latakieh 
and Aleppo. Three days of hard travelling were before 
us, during which we should have to exchange the fresh 
air and verdure of the coast for a desolate waste. We 
therefore started very early next morning, and, after a 
pleasant ride of thirteen miles in the cool of the morn- 
ing, we arrived at Jisi esch Sogher on the Orontes. 
Here the steep and lofty mountain chain closes in the 
valley of the Orontes so completely that it is filled by 
the bed of the nver. It is spanned by a fine bridge of 
thirteen arches, which is crossed by all caravans between 
Latakieh and Aleppo. The Traun, between Gmunden 
and the waterfall, afterwards reminded me of the 

Near the bridge is a handsome khan, built at the 
expense of the Nazarene family Kaproli, and kept up 
for the gratuitous reception of poor and sick travellers. 
This generous hospitality, strangely in contrast with the 
manners of a robber race like the J^azarenes, is never- 
theless one of their characteristics, and is shared by 
many uncivilised nations. They plunder whenever they 
can, and yet value hospitality so highly that they erect 
monuments to those who are distinguished for it. 

In Niebuhr's time Shogher belonged to a powerful 
Nazarene chief, M'Kaddem of Baluligeh, who was then 
lord of the pass. 

From Shogher, steep mountain paths lead to the 

VOL. I. H 

98 Sy7^ia and British Burma k. 

highest pass of the chain, from which you can see a 
great extent of the valley of the Orontes, and Shogher 
appears to lie almost perpendicularly beneath you. 
Towards the south the eye ranges over the fertile vale 
as far as Apamea, and beyond to the less lofty mountains 
of Jobr. On this pass vegetation changes, the varied 
fohage and verdiu-e cease, and yout come to a desolate 
reo-ion of limestone hills with a rocky surface and 
scanty sheep pasture, very similar to the Karst of 
Trieste. In some of the valleys and basin-like hollows 
vou find fertile soil. In such spots human beings have 
settled, sunk wells, and drag out a miserable existence. 
This treeless waste, with its rocky chasms, is a melancholy 
spectacle ; nevertheless the landscape is dotted with the 
ruins of churches, castles, and settlements of considerable 
size and sohd construction — signs of a once numerous 
population which must have succumbed to some fearful 


The heat became almost intolerable, and instead 
of a refreshing breeze we had a hot, dry wind w^hich 
cracked our lips and cheeks until they bled. To protect 
yourself against it, you must wrap yourself up as much 
as possible in thick clothing, not dress lightly as we do in 
Europe in warm weather. This is the reason of the native 
costume — the heavy mantle, the thick turban, and the 
double shawl of camel's hair which the Bedouin draws 
over his head down to his eyebrows, while he crosses the 
two ends over his face, so that only his dark flashing 
eyes are visible. 

Luring the great heat, besides my cloth mamaluke 
dress and a cloak of the same, I put over my head a 

yottrney to Aleppo and Bi7^ejik. 99 

wadded silk cloak, which I had kept of my lady's ward- 
robe, and sat on my horse wrapped up like a mummy. 

Wearily our poor horses dragged on. At every 
green spot I hoped for the longed-for rest ; but the 
leaders of the caravan, caring less for themselves than 
ibr the beasts, pushed on to the resting-place for the 
night. It was nothing but a large meadow where 
there was pasture and water for them, but nothing 
at all for us. 

Without our Giacomo we should have fared badly; 
but he exhibited brilhant talents as courier. In a short 
time he collected together from the camel drivers so 
many coverlets and cushions — whether borrowed or 
stolen I never knew — that he was able to prepare a 
comfortable couch for Heifer and me, divided by 
curtains from the rest of the company, while, with the 
provisions he had with him, he prepared a substantial 

For the first time I lay down to sleep in the free air 
of heaven; but although tired to death, the novelty of 
the scene ke^^t me long awake. The eye ranged over 
the boundless distance, the deep blue arch of heaven, 
the countless stars. Around us flickered the fires, 
near which the guards comfortably smoked their pipes, 
wrapped in their black and white striped mantles, their 
faces glowing with the ruddy flames. The merchants 
were lying about in various groups, and their servants 
kept a sharp eye on their carefully packed goods. 
Among them lay the camels, freed from their burdens, 
their long necks stretched out even in sleep, their bells 
making a monotonous tinkling with every movement. 

ff 2 

lOO Syria and British Burmah, 

With their wise looks and soft eyes they gazed around, 
as if resigned to their fate of being patient burden- 
bearers for man over the burning sands of the desert, 
and willing, when he is ready to perish, to furnish hini 
with the reviving draught by their death. 

All the vast changes, amidst which for ages one 
nation has succeeded another, each in its turn to perish, 
having fulfilled its mission, — the great tragedies of which 
this country must have been the theatre, the indelible 
traces of which I had just witnessed, — crowded into my 
mind. Never had I felt so far from home, so entirely 
transported into another world, as at this moment. The 
past and future seemed to pass before my mind's eye, 
until at last fatigue gained the victory over phantasy, 
and I fell asleep amidst a jumble of Arabian fairy tales 
and German realities. 

Our slumbers, however, were not of long duration.. 
The first streak of dawn restored life to the sleeping 
group and aroused us also ; and it was well, for when 
we tried to rise we felt quite lamed, and our clothes 
were wet through, so heavy is the dew and so great 
the decrease of temperature by night. We with difii- 
culty regained the use of our limbs, and feared the 
worst for our health ; but some hot coffee, the rising 
sun, and a morning ride of several miles, set us to 

That day's ride led us through a similar monotonous 
waste, sprinkled with numberless ruins. We ascended 
several times to small plateaux, rising terrace-like one 
above another, the desolation being only now and then 
broken by a wretched village or a few scanty cornfields. 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. loi 

Although in many parts the ground would repay culti- 
vation, it remains untilled, owing to the poverty of the 
inhabitants. The fellahs can only carry on farming 
with the help of the wealthy Aleppines, who furnish 
them with capital for implements and seed, and receive 
part of the produce in return. Besides this, the poor 
peasants have to pay high taxes from thek produce to 
the pacha. It is easy to see, therefore, why, under 
circumstances so unfavourable, they cultivate as little 
as possible of their land. 

The Affghans, although accustomed to tropical heat, 
did not bear the hardships of the march and the changes 
of temperature so well as we did. Sehm Khan became 
so exhausted as to alarm us. He had only as yet been 
acquainted with Asiatic luxury. We were therefore 
rejoiced, on the morning of the fourth day, to see from 
the plateau, although at a great distance, the minaret 
of the ancient citadel of Aleppo. But we had first to 
descend the plateaux, leading down to the desolate 
plain of Aleppo, which extends northwards to the foot 
of the mountains of Aintab, southwards to the heights 
of Jebel el Has, and eastward to the Euphrates, about 
thirty- three miles from Aleppo. The way was full of 
natural hollows, deepened into holes by the hoofs of 
the caravan beasts. Desolate as the aspect of this 
region is in autumn, it is enlivened in spring with the 
bright hues of a southern flora, when the bulbous 
plants, deeply hidden amongst the rocks, shoot up their 
vigorous tufts. 

About a mile before reaching the city we came to 
a large cistern of excellent water. These wells, which 

102 Syria arid British Burrnah, 

often have temple-like structures built over them, in 
such spots are the greatest boon to the weary traveller, 
not only for the sake of a refreshing draught, but from 
the shade afforded by the roof. 

From this spot the whole of the arid plain, in the 
midst of which Aleppo is situated, can be seen. The 
city looked well, extending on the left bank of the 
Koik, or river of Aleppo, like a lake of stone, out of 
which the slender minarets rose, like nymphs from a 
bath, and broke the uniformity. From this point we 
could admire the beauty of the city without seeing the 
desolation within. 

We approached the gates at sunset, and painfully 
felt the want of letters of introduction. Our isolation 
in quarantine in Beyrout and hasty flight had prevented 
us from obtaining any there for the consuls at Aleppo, 
especially the English Consul, who enjoys the highest 
consideration. It is most painful to be without them, 
as there are neither inns nor restaurateurs^ in our sense 
of these terms : native travellers go to their country- 
men, foreigners to their consuls, and the lower classes 
either encamp in the streets or with the muleteers in 
the caravanserais. Besides, just now the latter offered 
no accommodation, as they were overflowing with 
Ibrahim Pacha's troops, which were preparing for a raid 
against the refractory Kurds and Turcomans. 

We were in the greatest embarrassment when our 
mule driver asked where he should take us to. Heifer's 
proposal to ask the English Consul's hospitality without 
introduction, appeared to me, considering the strict 
formalities of the English, to be doubtful policy. 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 103 

Perhaps by unceremonious intrusion we might forfeit 
his goodwill for the future. I therefore proposed that 
we should go on, and ask the first European looking 
man we saw for advice and temporary accommodation. 
I still had home-ish notions. 

So we resolutely proceeded to seek shelter and 
supper somewhere or other. A twelve hours' march 
and a fast day were powerful incentives. We were 
fortunate enough before long to perceive not far off a 
dress coat with long tails, the wearer of which was 
gravely stalking along. At this moment it appeared to 
me like a signal of victory, though I am in general no 
admirer of tliis most unbecoming article of dress. 

Heifer hastened at once to our European country- 
man and told him our situation and our wishes. He 
listened with distant curiosity, stepped into a house, 
promising assistance, closed the door and did not 
reappear. After waiting a few minutes Heifer returned, 
like one who comes back to his thirsty brothers after 
a fruitless search for water in the desert. People are 
curious, even in Aleppo, and our rather strange appear- 
ance had attracted a small crowd, who looked on from 
a little distance ; but no one said a word. The tongue 
of the Oriental is not set so lightly as that of the 
Western nations. He thinks twice before he speaks, 
and meditates or dreams ten times more than he talks. 

At length we learnt, by dint of repeated question- 
ing, that all foreigners must go to the English Consul — 
to the great lord. We had scarcely made up our minds 
to follow this advice when a peremptory 'halt' was 
called, and custom-house officers, whom Ibrahim Pacha's 

I04 Syria and British Burmah. 

civilisation had conferred on Aleppo, laid hands on our 
baggage. All remonstrance, and assurances that it con- 
tained nothing but clothes were vain: to the custom 
house it must go, and our Giacomo, for safety, with it. 
The crowd of spectators had meanwhile increased, and 
a second dress coat was visible. Undaunted by the 
former futile attempt. Heifer addressed the wearer with 
a request that he would direct us to some shelter. 
This time he found commiseration for our dilemma. 
The gentleman commissioned one of the men standing 
about to guide us. For the promise of a few piastres 
he consented, and he led us through a labyrinth of 
streets which the growing darkness concealed from 

As our guide only understood Arabic, we were cut 
off from all enquiry as to how and whither. After long 
windings in and out, we stopped before a great door, 
which was opened to his knock. He said a few words 
in Arabic to a little man who came forward, took his 
piastres and disappeared, whereupon the door closed 
behind us. 

We found ourselves within a spacious court sur- 
rounded by a wall and other buildings. The chief 
edifice was lofty, though only of one storey, and had a 
large window in the middle extending nearly to the 
heisht of the house itself: the entrance was covered 
by a canopy, ornamented with gilt carving; the floor 
was a mosaic of costly marbles. A glistening stream 
rose high into the air from a basin of the same material, 
and played over vases of flowers ; close by were two 
lofty cypresses, which served as roosting-places for a 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 105 

flock of gyrating doves, and roses and jasmines filled 
the cool evening air with fragrance. 

We felt ourselves transported, as if by magic, from 
the desert into a fairy palace of delights and Oriental 
luxury. We simultaneously uttered exclamations of 
delight, and congratulated each other on reaching so 
promising an abode. 

Our eyes now fell upon the man who had opened 
the door. He was a thin little gentleman, with red 
slippers on his bare feet, a long dark blue kaftan, an 
immense black turban, and a Jesuitical countenance. 
He introduced himself to us as an Armenian doctor 
of great repute, and as a still greater linguist : he was 
constructing a dictionary in no less than five languages, 
and he began to go with great deliberation into the 
details of his work. We listened for some time, not 
venturing to interrupt the flow of his language, for the 
wounded pride of a learned man is hard to heal. But 
seeing no preparations for supper, politeness finally 
gave way to hunger, and we both informed him that 
we were in great need of a substantial meal. If any 
one blame us for this, I wish him a twelve hours' ride 
for foiu- days together over hard rock glowing with 
heat, and scanty fare. Our desire obviously embarrassed 
the old man : he smiled, turned this way and that, and 
after making various excuses, said that it was too late 
to make purchases ; the provisions in the house were 
limited ; a little rice and a few eggs were all he had to 
offer. Our sanguine expectations were sadly damped ; 
but the words eggs and rice fell pleasantly on our ears, 
and, asking for nothing more, we only exhorted him to 

io6 Syria and British Burmah. 

be quick, for we needed rest as much as food. Fatigue 
and hunger strove for mastery. 

Our host disappeared, his slippers clattering all 
over the house. A corpulent old lady assisted him : 
she was not the lady of the house, she whispered 
mysteriously ; she was young and beautiful, but never 
seen by strange men. 

It was hours before the longed-for rice made its 
appearance, I could no longer sit up, my eyes closed 
with weariness ; still the tyrant hunger asserted itself 
and would not be appeased. At length the master 
laid the table himself, and, in spite of our remonstrances, 
prepared to wait upon us. We replied to his invitation 
to take our seats with a ' Thank God ! ' Broken plates, 
rusty knives and forks, ragged table linen, in short, the 
whole equipment of the table in this fine house had 
caused our illusions to vanish. There must surely be 
some enchantment here, I thought. But we were too 
much taken up with the rice, which tasted delicious, to 
think much of anything else. 

The meal ended, we exclaimed, ' To bed ! to bed ! ' 
' Adesso, signore,' was his reply ; ' adesso vado a pre- 
parare il letto.' Fear of waiting for hours again made 
me follow him. He hastened panting through the 
rooms ; they were all empty, but bore unmistakable 
evidence of former luxury. With some trouble he 
collected cushions enough to make tolerable couches. 
I had begun to feel rather awe-stricken in this great 
desolate house, whose owner seemed to me like a 
magician under the spell of some superior power ; but 
fatigue soon overcame all alarms and caused me to fall 

yotcrney to Aleppo mid Birejik, 107 

into a profound, refreshing sleep, not disturbed even l>y 
dreams of enchanted castles or spell-bound princesses, 
until at length the bright noonday sun awakened me, 
and Heifer was at my side encouraging me to rise. 
The hope of a cup of fragrant coffee made me hasten. 
We were soon assembled for breakfast in the cool court 
near the splashing fountain and the cypresses. Among 
the shrubs was a host of chirping, twittering inhabitants, 
with brilliant plumage, quite indifferent to our presence. 
Greenfinches, bullfinches, red-throats, and other birds 
unknown to me, fluttered round our heads and hopped 
about on the marble floor as if they alone were entitled 
to breakfast there; while pigeons, fowls, ducks, and other 
poultry strutted a,bout, now and then coming to look at 
us, as if to ask if w^e were not going to give them their 
accustomed meal. But we, poor creatures, were still 
fasting ourselves. 

About one o'clock the old woman appeared with 
our breakfast — a small can, containing as much as a 
good German bowl, — and told us that we must await 
the arrival of our servant for dinner. 

Giacomo's appearance with the luggage put an end 
to our difficulties. He soon made purchases and 
prepared a savoury meal, which we took under the 
cypresses, and afterwards yielded ourselves to a sweet 

We had as yet had no means of solving the enigma 
of the house and its inmates •. our host went out early 
in the morning, and the old duenna answered all our 
enquiries with a silent shake of the head. Giacomo had 
been too much taken up with cares for the outward 
man to take much interest in our curiosity. 

io8 Syria and British Burmah. 

We were still sitting under the cypresses, deep in 
attempts to solve tlie problem ; each thought he had 
found the solution, but each was mistaken. The door 
opened, and a lady entered the court, who, after she 
had thrown aside the thick veil in which she was 
enveloped, displayed the dress of the Frank ladies of 
the better class : a dark silk skirt, open at both sides, 
bright-coloured silk pantaloons, and a little jacket richly 
embroidered with gold. Her dark hair hung down her 
back in numerous tails adorned with gold coins ; she 
wore a close-fitting cap ornamented with a kind of 
silver filagree work, and over this a blue silk handker- 
chief with gold stripes. The arched nose and eyebrows 
and long, dark, narrow eyes clearly belonged to the 
Armenian type. 

Shuffling with her yellow slippers, she slowly ap- 
proached us, and making a respectful obeisance, said at 
length, in Prankish Italian : ' I am Madame Salina, and 
wish to know whether you have seen my husband.' 
We looked in amazement at her and at each other: 
who was Madame Salina.^ and who was her husband? 
She rightly interpreted our looks, for, taking the seat 
ofiered her, she began, without fiurther ceremony, and 
with the greatest ease : ' My husband is one of the first 
physicians here in Aleppo. A week ago he was called to 
see a wealthy merchant who was taken very ill on the 
way from Latakieh, and I have heard nothing of him 
since. I fear he has fallen into the hands of the bar- 
barians who infest these parts and lay hands on what- 
ever they can. I have learnt from Mr. Dimitri, my 
neighbour, that you are come from Latakieh, and you 
must have seen my husband on the way.' 

yoiirney to Aleppo aiid Birejik. 109 

This mode of obtaining news of distant friends — 
^hich we Westerns, who jostle each other on the rail- 
ways, scarce deigning a look at anyone, should, to use 
a mild expression, consider rather ' green ' — is in these 
countries quite a matter of course, for travellers seldom 
meet without asking ' whence ' and ' whither.' 

We expressed our sincere regret that we could not 
give her any news, as our caravan had avoided the 
khans on the usual route, because they were full of 
soldiers, and had taken a less frequented road. 

Madame Salina, by her natural unassuming manner, 
had made a very favourable impression on us, and she 
was quite ready to solve the enigma of our abode. We 
told her what had happened on our arrival, and of our 
curious reception. She was evidently amused, and said, 
with a roguish laugh : ' My neighbour has been playing 
off his httle game again and giving himself out for a 
learned man, which he is very fond of doing. He is 
only a barber, whom the English Consul has put in to 
take care of his house during his long absence at his 
fine seat on the coast.' 

So this was the prosaic solution of the mystery! 
And, in spite of ourselves, we were at the English 
Consulate after all, although just now it was deserted 
by its occupants. 

It was now Madame Salina's turn to ask questions ; 
and we at once, as concisely as possible, gave an account 
of ourselves. She listened in silence, inhaling in long 
puffs the aromatic vapours of the nargileh which had 
meanwhile been handed to her. What we told her of 
home seemed to make no impression on her, it was too 

no Syria and British Burmah. 

remote from the circle of her ideas. But as we ap- 
proached Aleppo she became animated ; and when we 
recounted the adventure with the coat she broke out 
in exclamations of disgust at such a breach of hospi- 
tality — a virtue held so sacred here. She asked for 
a more particular description of the delinquent, a 
mischievous smile spread over her face, and a low ' si 
conosce ' escaped her lips. 

To make amends, she asked us to dine at her table, 
which we declined, as Giacomo was able to provide very 
well for us. But the invitation to spend the evening 
with some friends and relations was very welcome, and 
at the appointed time we repaired to her house, which 
was not far off. We found a circle of ladies sitting 
cross-legged on the divans along the w^all and smoking 
the indispensable nargileh. Their dress consisted of 
the Aleppo costume already described. Their necks 
were encircled by a large number of gold chains, which 
hung low down over the muslin handkerchiefs conceal- 
ing the bosom. Their arms, so far as they were not 
covered by the muslin sleeves which appeared from 
under the jacket, were covered with gold bracelets. 
The turban-like head-dress was adorned with bunches 
of cord ending in tassels of real pearls. It was a very 
fine sight for a spectator initiated into the mysteries of 
the Levantine lady's toilet. 

As we entered, each rose deliberately, one after the 
other, and, with her hand on her breast, made her 
salaam and then deliberately resumed her seat and her 

Our unquestionably strange appearance did not 

your7iey to A leppo avd Birejik, 1 1 1 

appear to excite any interest in them : they sat like wax 
figures, their eyehds half closed, and their countenances 
devoid of all expression. 

I should have bes^un to feel ill at ease among all 
this still life, had not Madame Salina, with an alacrity 
which was all the more striking in contrast, taken 
Heifer and me by the hand and conducted us to another 
part of the spacious room. A roguish look beamed in 
her face as she approached a group of gentlemen and 
said, in a loud tone of voice : ' Come here, Mr. Franz, 
here are some countrymen of yours ! ' Dress coat 
number one, a fair young Bohemian, stood before us, 
blushing all over and unable to bring out a word in 
his dire confusion. 

'Is that the way you receive strangers in your 
country ? ' she said to him, with assumed displeasure ; 
' it is not our way. You were near bringing our hos- 
pitality into evil repute.' Herr Franz now stammered 
out a few words, excusing himself, from ignorance of 
the circumstances and fear of getting his partner into 
trouble, as he had taken us for agents of the pacha. 
But we cut his bad Frankish phrases short with a hearty 
welcome in German, and expressed our pleasure in 
having found a countryman in any way. Hardly had the 
words been uttered when a genial welcome met our 
ears on two sides, and four hands were extended for a 
German shake. Herr Pocher, from Leipa in Bohemia, 
who had long been settled in Aleppo as owner of a large 
glass warehouse, and Herr Klinger, also a Bohemian, 
music director in Ibrahim Pacha's service, introduced 
themselves to us. 

112 Syria and British Btcrmah. 

Then followed enquiries about our beloved country, 
whicli both had left years before, and even Herr Franz, 
Herr Pocher's partner, became loquacious. But when- 
ever four Bohemians meet, talk soon resolves itself into 
music, and so it was here. Instruments were quickly 
fetched, and several quartettes were given, with Herr 
Klinger as conductor, which Heifer followed by airs 
from operas as yet unknown here. Our improvised 
concert lasted till late at night. 

I carefully watched the countenances of the ladies, 
to see whether the German music produced any impres- 
sion on them. But not a trace of emotion was to be seen. 
There they sat, totally indifferent to it, exchanging a few 
insignificant words with each other, sipping the thick 
coffee out of little cups, and taking the indispensable 
glico. Their ears, dulled from childhood by the 
Turkish tom-tom, had no power to convey harmonious 
sounds to the mind. We, however, left this unexpected 
German musical entertainment in the highest good 

Early next morning Madame Salina came to take 
me a walk in the city, of which, owing to the darkness 
in the evening, I had not yet seen anything. 

This once flourishing commercial city, the centre 
of intercourse between the East and the West, where 
the precious products of the tropics were exchanged 
for those of western industry, where vast treasures 
were stored, and reals not counted, but measured, 
the rendezvous of all the caravans of pilgrims, — 
this city, as it existed in my imagination from descrip- 
tions I had read, full of palatial commercial houses 

journey to A leppo and Birejik. i r 3 

splendid mosques, and lofty minarets, with clean, well- 
paved streets — met my eyes with a scene of fearful 

The earthquake of 1822 had ruined two-thirds of 
the city ; it had not, however, as in the case of fire, 
reduced it to ashes, leaving not a vestige of its former 
glory, but large portions of handsome edifices were left 
standing amidst the ruins, making the surrounding 
destruction all the more conspicuous. Here was half 
of a fine building left standing, its interior, bearing 
witness to the luxury of its former inhabitants, laid 
open to view. There was half the cupola of a splendid 
mosque cut in two as if with a sword, its dome of 
azure adorned with stars of gold. The crumbling mud 
walls of miserable huts lay among massive construc- 
tions more or less ruined, whose granite blocks should bid defiance to eternity, and by whose walls race 
after race, nation after nation had passed. The old 
and the new, the great and the small, palace and hut 
were jumbled together : all difierences between the 
habitations of men were efiaced. But man ever erects 
anew the barriers between the ruhng and the serving 

So the Aleppines, in spite of this fearful destruction, 
which, though not often to this extent, had frequently 
reciu*red, had taken heart again, and had begun to 
restore their homes. New huts and new palaces had 
already arisen among the ruins, and many modern 
improvements had been tastefully added to the old 
Saracenic style. The interminable bazaars were filled 
with wares as before. Indian shawls, silk stuffs 

VOL. I. I 

I [4 Syria and British Burmak. 

embroidered with gold and silver, Persian carpets, 
Indian spices, European cotton and other manufactures, 
precious stones, pearls, Bohemian glass, cloth, and furs — 
all were to be found well classified here, and a stream of 
bargaining customers was for ever passing to and fro. 

At first I was alarmed at the number of dogs, who, 
quite independent of masters, had quartered themselves 
under the booths of the bazaars, and apparently divided 
them into districts, for the observance of which they 
seem to have police regulations of their own. Woe 
to the four-footed offender who passes his boundaries ! 
He is sure to be torn in pieces by the rightful owner. 
But they are harmless to human beings if they leave 
them alone ; for although the dog, in the eyes of the 
Mussulman, is an unclean and contemptible animal, 
whose name he uses as the greatest insult, he never 
ill-treats him nor kills his young ones : this accounts for 
the large number of dogs in the East. 

My companion did not at all approve of my costume ; 
she would have liked to see me in one like her own, 
and in true woman fashion tried to excite my vanity 
by praising the pretty flowered materials, the head- 
dresses finely worked in silver, so becoming in her 
eyes. But finding that she could not persuade me to 
adopt a feminine dress again, she said that I must, at 
least to please her, buy a new mamaluke suit, one of 
the handsome sort made in Aleppo, of red cloth with gold 
embroidery. She had, however, the mortification of 
seeing me choose a modest green embroidered in black 
silk. She thought my taste incorrigibly bad. 

I was afterwards her guide up to the castle hill, 

yoitrney to Aleppo and Birejik. 115 

which, like most of the Aleppines, she had never 
mounted, as the ascent is fatiguing and an order from 
the governor is required. This citadel, like many 
others in Syria, in the midst of the city, is a partly 
natural, partly artificial hill of from 150 to 200 feet 
high ; the outside is entirely covered with masonry 
and surrounded by a fosse 60 feet wide and three- 
quarters of a mile in extent. 

The citadel of Aleppo was very strong at the time 
of the Crusades ; according to a Kufic inscription, how- 
ever, it appears to date from the sixth century of 
the Hegira. The main entrance was under a strong 
arch, with three thick iron doors, which are said to 
have led, ages ago, to the inexhaustible treasures of 
Aleppo. The earthquake had made fearful ravages 
here, the greater part of the building was in ruins, the 
portions still habitable were imperfectly restored for 

In the midst of these ruius was a watch tower, 
60 feet high, and near it a draw well 288 feet deep ; 
both, singularly enough, had been untouched by the 
earthquake. The well still supplies its cold crystal 

From the tower we had a mai^nificent view 
of the neighbouring desert and its distant boundaries. 
Towards the south and east the eye ranged as far as 
the Euphrates ; towards the west, to the mountains of 
Beilan ; in the north, the majestic Taurus with their 
snow-clad peaks were visible. At our feet lay the city, 
the terraces on the roofs of the new houses adorned 
with flowers beneficently concealing the ruins ; amoa«»" 

1 S 

ii6 Syria and British Btcnnah. 

them wound the river Koik, amidst blooming gardens 
and dusky olive plantations, from which pretty pleasure 
resorts peeped forth. 

This splendid prospect was not without its effect on 
Madame Salina ; her prattle ceased as, for the first time, 
she gazed in wonder beyond the boundaries of Aleppo. 
Whether she was overcome by a sense of the greatness 
and beauty of the world I could not make out, she 
had no words for such novel sensations, and was not 
quite herself again till we entered the commandant's 
house to pay a visit to his wife. We had scarcely 
crossed the threshold when we heard a loud scream, 
and encountered two female figures hiding their faces 
in their hands. My mamaluke costume had frightened 
them ; they thought themselves exposed to the gaze of a 
strange man, but after Madame Salina had explained, 
they were pacified. They were mother and daughter — 
Nubian beauties of rather dark hue, with large black 
eyes, eyelids and eyebrows artistically encircled with 
black, their lips blue, and the nails of hands and feet 
dyed red. At first I disliked these painted faces, but 
when you are used to them, the bright colours seem 
to harmonise with the dark complexion ; it certainly 
would not become a northern blonde belle. 

Here, also, the walls of the rooms were bare and 
thinly whitewashed, the women untidily and insuffi- 
ciently dressed, but gold coins were suspended from 
their heads. Little distinguished as they looked, they 
spoke in a lofty tone. When Madame Salina expressed 
surprise at finding only one wife, she answered : ' I do 
not allow a second.' 'You do not allow itF Your 

yot^rney to A leppo and Birejik. 117 

religion and your laws permit it to the husband,' 
' But I do not ; I am a Nubian princess, and only 
married my husband on condition that I should be 
the only wife ; if he took another, I should accuse 
him before the pacha and return to my family.' 

Whether her exceptional claims were well founded 
I do not know ; she looked resolute enough to assert 

After so much had been explained to her as she 
could understand of our coming and going, and why I 
wore a man's dress, we took our leave with polite 
salaams and hand crossings. 

Madame Salina had no children, of which she 
often complained with tears, for it is only as mothers 
that wives in the East feel their dignity and happiness. 
This led to her not leading a very domestic life, and 
she was often at the house of her elder sister, the 
wife of our countryman Pocher, who was blest with 
children. Here I had an opportunity of observing 
the invincible indolence of eastern women. I used to 
find Madame Pocher, although she had four children, 
as well as her childless sister, sitting the whole day 
cross-legged on the divan smoking the nargileh. Herr 
Pocher made the purchases for the kitchen, which was 
managed by a slave, who did just as he pleased in that 
department as well as in the rest of the house. Even 
Madame Pocher's own toilet, smart as it appeared to 
view, was very much neglected. On going to rest, the 
women only take off the outer silk garment and gold 
embroidered jacket, and keep on 'their trousers and 
other articles of dress. The thick roll of hair is onlv 

1 1 8 Sy7da and BiHtisk Burmah. 

combed out and fresh plaited once a week, and at other 
times merely smoothed with pomade. If only the 
coins suspended from it glitter and jingle, that is 

^ Under these circumstances the frequent use of the 
bath is very desirable. But I found the arrangements 
for it in the highest degree repulsive. The women 
regard the bath-room, filled with hot steam, as a place 
of entertainment, in which they walk about quite un- 
dressed, sit and chat, take sweetmeats and sherbet, and 
free from all restraint, they show great want of refine- 
ment. Induced to visit it by Madame Salina, and my 
own desire for a refreshing bath, I was so disgusted by 
the sight that met me on the threshold that I at once 
turned away and have never again entered a Turkish 
bath. I can, therefore, divulge nothing of the arts and 
mysteries practised there which are so highly extolled. 

I mention as a fact told me by Herr Pocher, that 
in his business transactions he only made written 
contracts, as is customary with us, with Christian mer- 
chants, but never with the Turks, whose word was 
a better security than the most binding contract. 
What an admission from the lips of a Christian mer- 
chant 1 

The European community gave a ceremonious ball 
in honour of the new ruler of Syria. The order and 
security which Ibrahim Pacha had introduced, the 
severity with which he had punished rapine and theft 
and driven the Bedouin hordes back into the wilderness, 
had awakened great hopes of better times. The mer- 
chants could transport their goods in safety, and expected 

yoiirney to A leppo and Birejik. 119 

to see trade restored to its former prosperity. New life 
was stirring everywhere, althougli the unsparing con- 
scription for military service had induced several 
hundred young men to escape it by flight. 

We received an invitation, and eagerly availed our- 
selves of the opportunity of attending a ball at Aleppo, 
and of seeing the dreaded conqueror. 

The festive hall, although spacious and brilliantly 
lighted, did not come up to our expectations. Instead 
of the smooth parquet floor of a European ball room, 
there were carpets, of rare beauty certainly, but so soft 
as to make it impossible for the feet to glide swiftly over 
them. This, however, was no obstacle to the fair 
Aleppine dancers ; even for dancing they retained their 
yellow slippers and their slow shuffling gait ; they 
did not array themselves in light ball dresses, but 
rather overloaded their usual attire with additional 
finery. Herr Klinger's baton directed a Franqaise^ and 
the ladies shuffled solemnly up and down, backwards 
and forwards, over the carpets, paying no heed to the 
time of the music. Some young gentlemen of the French 
consulate tried to introduce life and movement into the 
dancing, but they had their pirouettes and entrechats to 
themselves, and the close files of lady dancers shyly 
made their way among their ranks. 

After each Franqaise there was a pause, during 
which preserved fruits and sherbet were handed round. 

Hjs Serene Highness sat on a raised seat. He was 
somewhat corpulent with strongly marked features and 
a grey beard, and he wore the scarlet fez. The scene 
seemed to amuse him ; then his eye fell on Heifer and 

I20 Syria and British Burmah. 

me, as we stood a little apart from the rest. He was 
surprised to see Europeans in the mamaluke dress, the 
costume of his guard, and asked where we came from ; 
on being informed he expressed a wish to see us nearer. 
Of course they hastened to introduce us. ' Inch Allah ! ' 
he exclaimed, ' the lady is courageous ! How do you 
like it here?' he asked through his interpreter, as he 
would not speak Turkish himself. 'Very much,' I 
answered. But when Heifer, in the course of conver- 
sation, asked if he would not like to see Europe, he 
knitted his brows and answered sternly, 'I am good 
enough for my country as I am.' Perhaps he thought 
that the question meant that there were some things he 
might learn in Europe. 

I asked permission to pay a visit to the ladies of 
his harem. ' What do you want with the women? ' he 
said. ' You had better see my soldiers ; to-morrow is 
parade.' And I did see this parade, which exhibited 
the greatest possible variety of physiognomies and cos- 
tumes ; but the troops had been well drilled by the 
French officers. Still more admirable, however, was 
the achievement of our countryman, Khnger, who, in a 
short time, had trained an excellent band composed of 
nesro boys and young Abyssinians, and that day, in 
honour of us, nothing but German marches were played. 
While we were listening to these home-like sounds, his 
Serene Highness dashed up to us and asked complai- 
santly : ' Well, how do you hke it ? ' but was off again 

At the ball I had sat by a young lady, the regular 
beauty of whose profile had attracted my notice. How 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 121 

lovely her front face must be, I thought, and longed 
that she would turn her head. From the passivity of 
Oriental women, I might have waited a long time, so I 
attracted her attention by heaving a deep sigh. Good 
heavens ! what a sight. If I had just feigned a sigh, 
an involuntary exclamation of horror escaped me now. 
In her other cheek there was a deep hollow, and from 
a spot in the middle deep seams diverged contracting 
the whole side up to the eye, the lid of which was 
pulled down, showing the red inside. Was it possible 
that so much beauty and ugliness could exist divided 
only by the line of the finely-arched nose ! It was the 
effect of the houton dAleppe^ a kind of carbuncle, 
which, in Aleppo, and particularly in Diabekr, attacks 
young women and girls on one side of the face, com- 
pletely eating it away. 

The cause of this disease is not known ; in Aleppo 
it is attributed to drinking the water of the Koik, 
in Diabekr to dirt, and the sharp contrast between 
summer and winter temperature. However accounted 
for, the sight was not merely hideous, but alarming, as 
foreigners, although less frequently, also contract this 

We were greatly interested in making the acquaint- 
ance of several English officers attached to the oft- 
discussed Euphrates Expedition. They had just returned 
from a perilous mission to Orfah and Harran. Attacked 
on the way by the Subha and Aniza Arabs, their 
leader. Lieutenant Lynch, had by his presence of mind 
contrived to turn their enemies into friends. They also 
took up their quarters beneath Demitri's hospitable 

122 Syria and B^ntish Burmah. 

roof, and we met first at breakfast. The little troop 
coDsisted of Lieutenant Lynch, the second in command 
of the Expedition, a clever diplomatist and expert in 
Oriental languages ; his brother, a captain in the Indian 
army, Dr. Staunton, and Mr. Elliot. The latter was a 
Eurasian, the son of an English gentleman and a native 
Mohammedan woman, not of legitimate birth, which in 
England is of more consequence than elsewhere. He had, 
however, received a careful education in England. He 
was afterwards taken prisoner on board a Greek vessel 
by the Eussians, and transported to Siberia. He made 
his escape, however, and reached Constantinople, where 
he exchanged the religion of his father for that of his 
mother, and became a dervish — a useful exchange for 
one who wishes to travel safely and comfortably through 
Asia. In every village, when one of these Mussulman 
saints arrives and blows his horn, the whole population 
assembles ; even the secluded women come out to serve 
him and learn from him, for from his lips drop the 
sayings from the Koran. This pseudo-dervish wore a 
coarse grey robe, a broad girdle round the waist with a 
pair of pistols m it, a shawl of camel's hair round his 
head, and red leather boots, the sign of a polished saint, 
for a true dervish treads the glowing earth barefoot. 
A gazelle skin, thrown over his shoulders, served him 
as a mantle and a couch. Eefined features and a bright 
dark eye gave evidence of higher culture than you 
would have expected from his garb. His adventures, 
which he soon related to us, excited our interest. He 
was one of those people who, richly endowed by nature 
but outcasts from society, live in perpetual conflict 
with it, and either conquer or perish. 

yourney to Aleppo and Birtjik. 123 

These gentlemen also showed a hvely interest in us 
after we had told them oiu* plans and adventures, par- 
ticularly Lieutenant Lynch. He had travelled much in 
Asia, and with a good English education he combined 
a taste for Asiatic hospitality and Oriental luxury, 
which, however, it is necessary to indulge in there to a 
certain extent for the sake of keeping up your dignity. 
Perfectly acquainted with the character, subterfuges, 
and intrigues of Turkish officials, he was quite a match 
for them, and was therefore often employed in nego- 
tiations with them. Like ourselves he had adopted the 
mamaluke dress, only his was richly embroidered. He 
was struck with our Affghan companions, and at first 
regarded them with suspicion. To my satisfaction, 
however, when I questioned him as to the grounds of 
it, he replied, ' The appearance of these men, with my 
knowledge of Asiatics, at first very much surprised me, 
and I was in fact disposed to regard them as iinpostors, 
who are to be found here as well as in Europe ; but I 
am now convinced that they belong to the class of 
honourable Asiatics, who keep their word and conscien- 
tiously follow the rules of the Koran ; you may safely 
travel with them.' 

Although we thoroughly trusted them before, this 
verdict from so experienced a connoisseur was very 
satisfactory, and removed the least shade of suspicion. 

We had hoped to find Aleppo the chief rendezvous 
of the caravans, which either take pilgrims to the 
grave of the Prophet through Baghdad and Basrah, or 
merchandise into the interior of Asia, and to find an 
opportunity of making the somewhat dangerous journey 

124 Syria and British Bu7^mah. 

in safety. But weeks passed without the least prospect 
of this ; the warhke state of things had kept everything 
at a standstill. An invitation from Lieutenant Lynch 
to beguile the time by an excursion to Port William, 
whither he was about to return, was therefore all the 
more welcome. We accepted it with the greatest 
pleasure ; we were as curious to see the mighty river 
which runs through Syria from north to south as to 
witness the opening of steam navigation upon its 

This bold and magnificent enterprise, which was 
carried out with iron perseverance, arrested at that 
time the attention of the world, and it could not fail to 
excite the greatest sympathy in Aleppo, which had s6 
large an interest in it. Politicians and merchants 
beheld the dawn of a new era in the regular navigation 
of the Euphrates. The results, however, expected from 
the undertaking as a civilising agent, the blessings it 
w^as to confer on great and gifted nations groaning 
under a cruel yoke and sunk in fanaticism, its special 
purpose to restore the advantages of cultivation to those 
countries now lying waste, which once enjoyed para- 
disiacal abundance — these beneficent ideas which doubt- 
less animated the heart and soul of the originator, were 
not, and have not to this day, been realised. 

On a bright October day we left Aleppo. Every 
one had wrapped himself as well as he could in cloth 
clothing, and wound a shawl over the tarbush as a pro- 
tection against the midday heat and the cold at night. 
We formed a considerable troop, calculated to inspire 
respect. We were preceded by two Turkish kawasses in 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 125 

rich costume, well armed with guns and pistols, and 
provided with the silver staff, the ensign of their dignity. 
Lieutenant Lynch followed at some little distance, 
giving me the place of honour on his left hand, then 
the rest of tlie gentlemen. I much enjoyed the ride 
with this stately convoy, so different from our previous 
mode of travelling, and the more so as the neighbour- 
hood of Aleppo on the north is richly cultivated. 
Villages he along the banks of the Koik amidst luxu- 
riant gardens ; the country was even adorned by an 
avenue of stately trees which would have done credit 
to European taste. 

At seven we reached the village of a tribe of Kurds, 
to whom our arrival had been announced by our out- 
runner Mahomet, and he had secured night quarters 
for us. I was much interested in making acquaintance 
with this race, hitherto unknown to me. Unfortunately 
the darkness prevented me from distinguishing any- 
thing but a mass of habitations half below and half 
above the ground, the roofs of which were formed by 
black tents. We were received by the sheikh with 
great ceremony, with many salaams and much hand 
crossing, as signs of respect for the great lords, and he 
conducted us to the abode for strangers. Every village 
must keep one such for the reception of travellers who 
are under the protection of Government ; if it has none, 
the sheikh must give up his own. It consisted of a square 
hollow sunk a few feet in the ground with a black tent 
stretched over it ; two httle openings represented the 
windows, but the door, always open, gave light. The 
floor was of hard trodden earth. It was prepared for 

r 26 SyiHa and British Biiinnah. 

our reception with rush mats spread along the bare 
walls, covered with soft cushions of silk and flowered 
cotton, red being the prevailing colour. 

Our English companions, more accustomed to the 
usages of the country, took off their large red boots, 
put on yellow shppers, and took their seats crosslegged, 
which we with our less practised limbs did not succeed 
in doing. For supper, a carpet of varied hues was 
spread upon the ground, and on this were served pilaw 
(stewed meat with rice, the usual dish, and very 
good it is), sour milk (leben), apricot marmalade 
with fresh butter, which I found an excellent mixture, 
and splendid grapes. There was also flat plate-like 
bread, which, from the scarcity of fuel, is generally 
baked on a hard-dried cake of cow-dun2[ well mixed 
with straw. The dough, shaped like this cake, is placed 
upon it, and the cake is immediately set fire to ; as 
soon as it is burnt away the bread is ready ; it is of a 
greyish colour and rather tough, and serves for plate, 
knife and fork ; you break a piece off the edge, take it 
between the three fingers of the right hand, dip it into 
the dish, and eat it with what you dip out. Some 
rusty old knives and forks, which had not been cleaned 
for a long time, were brought out in honour of us, and 
to show their advanced civilisation, but they seemed to 
me much less inviting than the hands carefully washed 
before every meal, and with which they are so dex- 
terous in dipping up the food with the bits of bread, 
that no one touches another's place. Our host, invited 
by Lieutenant Lynch, took his place opposite to us, 
with some of the most distinguished of the tribe, and 

yotcrney to Aleppo and Birtjik. 127 

thus we sat in the Kurdish tent, taking the common 
meal with our fingers out of the dish, and very good 
we found it. 

These customs may seem very uninviting to Eiu*o- 
peans, but they are not really so. The Asiatics maintain 
so much dignity in all their actions and mode of hand- 
ling things, that nothing seems rough or vulgar. These 
Kurds also showed their good breeding by not betraying 
the least aversion to partake of a meal with a woman, 
although they never do so with their own women. 
They go freely about unveiled, as is universal among 
the country folk, for they do most of the rough work, 
and there is not the strict separation of the sexes which 
is kept up in the towns, but they are not permitted to 
eat with the men, and have to wait on them. 

The tent afforded space enough for part to be 
divided off by a curtain for Heifer and me. As usual, 
after a long ride, we were refreshed by sound sleep, 
and continued our march next morninor. The sheikh 
himself accompanied us to the next village, where we 
were regaled with milk and fresh water, and took 
another s^uide. 

Although there is no danger in this country of 
losing your way in forests, it is scarcely less difficult 
not to miss the right path, or rather to find a path at 
all, for not a trace of one is to be seen on the rocky 
ground, not a tree nor a plant grows in the arid soil, 
no mountain nor rising ground breaks the horizon ; 
you do not see the villages until you are close to them, 
and perceive the black doorways in the burnt clay 
houses ; the cloudless blue sky seems to rest on the 

128 Syria and British Btirmah. 

greyish brown earth. I found this to be the case in 
antumn in the greater part of Syria. Others, who have 
traversed the country in spring, speak of the carpet of 
flowers, the abundance of purple and yellow crocuses 
and other bulbous plants, whose roots are buried deep 
in the rocky earth, secure from frost and heat, and 
when nature awakes, put forth numberless blossoms, 
without leaves, and change the country into a flower 
garden. It is always a mistake to try to describe 
foreign countries after only a rapid journey through 

Towards evening we reached a tribe of Turcomans, 
who do not hve in mud houses, but mostly in black and 
white striped tents. Apprised of our approach, they 
had erected a large tent for our reception. These tents, 
supported by six or eight poles, and often very spacious, 
are divided by a ciu-tain separating the space for the 
women. The multitude of silk cushions and costly 
carpets, as well as the rich attire and dignity of the 
sheikh, bore witness to his wealth. We were received 
with still more ceremonious politeness than on the 
previous evening, and at supper had preserved fruits 
and sweet pastry, which could not have been home- 
made, but indicated intercourse with the town. 

Lieutenant Lynch played the part of chief of our 
party with great dignity. He solemnly took the seat 
of honour. The attention he paid to me by handing 
me the first cup of coffee, attracted the notice of the 
numerous men present, whose curiosity had before been 
excited by my appearance. Observing this, he intro- 
duced me as his younger brother, thereby preventing 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 129 

any inconvenient inquiries. After supper we were 
surprised by the singing of two men, accompanied by a 
guitar. This ended, a girl of twelve years old entered 
the circle and executed a dance. With incredible 
agility and frightful distortions of the limbs and features 
she tried to express, now joy, now sorrow, to the great 
admiration of the native spectators, who followed her 
movements with breathless attention and involuntarily 
imitated them. I was told that the meaning of the 
song and dance was life and death. 

It was interesting to notice the deep impression 
produced by this mimic acting, primitive as it was, 
among those present. When it was over, the Turcoman 
Terpsichore demanded a gift from each, and to the 
amusement of all, she urgently begged for one from our 
dervish Elliot, who refused to give, pleading poverty ; 
he was only relieved from her importunity by our chief, 
who doubled his own gift. 

I should have liked to pay a visit to the women's 
apartments, and to see life behind the scenes, but was 
precluded from it by my masculine garb and the part I 
had to play. But I saw enough of the unveiled fair 
ones, who, as curious as myself, often peeped between 
the folds of the curtains, and during the preparation of 
supper went about outside the tent, to obtain no very 
exalted idea of their charms. Stately, powerful, and 
dignitied as the men are, the women are unattractive. 
They do all the rough and menial work. The expression 
of their faces, in spite of their piercing black eyes, is 
heavy, showing no activity of mind, and they are not 
so well nor so neatly dressed as the men. The orna- 

VOL. I. K 

130 Syria and British Biirmah. 

ments they prize the most are earrings, and a very large 
ring, set with beads, in the right nostril. Gold coins 
are suspended from their caps, which are high, and 
broad at the top. Their faces are uncovered, except 
that they wear a broad bandage over the mouth. 

We started early next morning. Our intention of 
visiting the ruins of the ancient Hierapolis involved a 
long march through the desert. The sheikh himself 
and a number of eminent men of the tribe accompanied 
us. They appeared to wish to inspire the Franks with 
a good opinion. Armed with long guns, pistols in 
their belts, and spears in their hands, with large bright 
coloured tassels on the top, which fluttered gaily in 
the morning breeze, mounted on swift steeds of noble 
pedigree, their black and white striped mantles hanging 
in ample folds over their shoulders, they looked like a 
troop of knights of bygone days. Some of them bore 
falcons on their wrists, their wise-looking eyes hooded 
for the chase. Who would not have felt as if trans- 
ported into the middle ages ? 

After a march of several hours the cultivated land 
came to an end, and we entered on the desert, which 
had plainly only become a desert for want of tillage; 
industry could now, as in former times, reap rich har- 
vests from it. 

In the distance we saw herds of antelopes feeding, 
who fled as on the wings of the wind at our approach. 
These defenceless creatures, with their beautiful heads 
and soft beseeching eyes, find safety only in speed. 
Large flocks of birds of various kinds were flying 
southwards ; noisily as they announce their arrival in 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. i 


spring, they leave their breeding haunts in autumn in 
perfect silence. No sound broke the stillness but the 
horses' hoofs on the rock. In order to display the 
dexterity of the riders and the fleetness of their steeds, 
the sheikh gave orders to his people to chase the flying 
game. The vv^ord was scarcely spoken when ten riders 
sped away, gradually separating, then forming a semi- 
circle till they vanished from view. After about half- 
an-hour, during which we had kept to a walking pace, 
some of the hunters came back in a measured gallop. 
Across the crupper of one of the horses lay an antelope, 
dead, but not wounded ; it had not been killed by any 
weapon, but ridden to death. We were soon to get a 
nearer view of this method of killing game. From 
hither and thither the rest of the hunters now drew 
near. They appeared to be seeking something. All 
at once, not far off fmm us, we saw two young wild 
boars ; the hunters sprang after them, drove them 
before them, and ran them down before our eyes, so 
that they were killed by the horses' hoofs. I should 
not have thought a horse could be trained to tread a 
living creature to death, but these horses seemed to be 
accustomed to it, and did it, I might almost say, with a 
sort of murderous glee. 

About two o'clock we reached the ancient Hierapolis, 
now Membidge. The only remains of the place where 
the Emperor Julian with his victorious army crossed 
the Euphrates by a bridge, intent on subjugating the 
Persians, an enterprise, however, in which he met his 
death, are the ruins of the temple erected to the Dea 
Syra, a few palaces, the walls, and many aqueducts, 


132 Syria and British Btirmah. 

whicli must have traversed tlie v^hole city. There is 
not a vestige of the bridge, and of the city itself, which 
Julian had made the metropolis of the Euphrates 
country and the. chief seat of commerce, there are but 
few remains. 

A hot wind was blowing which dried up the tongue 
and made the hps smart. The fresh water and the 
shade of the ruins was all the more grateful. In spite 
of our guide's admonitions to proceed, so that we might 
reach our still distant destination before dark, we took 
a loDg rest ; it was getting dusk before we reached the 
fertile and cultivated banks of the Sajur, still some 
distance from our night quarters. 

Our way lay through undulating country, some- 
times sloping gently to the river, sometimes high above 
it with steep descents. .We had not gone far wdien 
loud human voices broke the stillness, and armed riders 
came in sight and fired at us. Lieutenant Lynch imme- 
diately ordered a halt. Our Turcomans, to whom the 
prospect of a skirmish did not seem at all agreeable, 
withdrew into the background, when Lieutenant Lynch 
requested them to turn back in a body, well aware 
that a doubtful friend is often more dangerous than an 
open foe. Accompanied by an attendant, he rode 
calmly up to the attacking party, who meanwhile had 
halted. The coolness, presence of mind, and supe- 
riority of Europeans makes a great impression on these 
children of nature, who act on impulse, not on calm 
consideration. A few w^ords sufficed to explain the 
incident. Our numbers had alarmed the neighbouring 
tribes ; they feared an attack and had prepared for 

Jourjiey to Aleppo and Birejik. 133 

defence. After they were convinced, to their great 
satisfaction, of our peaceful intents, they conducted us 
with joyful demonstrations to their sheikh. He was 
an old acquaintance of Lieutenant Lynch, who enjoyed 
great popularity among the natives, because, knowing 
their tastes and weaknesses, he did not disdain to con- 
form to them. 

Before reaching our night quarters we had a most 
fatiguing march. The darkness had increased, and 
our way by the river went now through deep clefts, 
now over steep precipices, which made me giddy and 
obliged me to shut my eyes. I could scarcely get my 
tired horse along. But our young friend, Selim Khan, 
suiFered most from the unwonted hardships. It was 
with the greatest difficulty that he had kept bis seat, 
and he now declared that he could go no farther. We 
could not permit him to pass the night alone in the 
open air, so Heifer stayed behind, helping him on slowly 
with the aid of our servant. 

A weary hour had passed, which seemed to me an 
eternity ; at length a group of tents came in sight, 
magically illuminated by burning watch fires, the goal 
of our day's journey. The picturesque sight made me 
soon forget my fatigues. A fire was blazing before 
almost every door, by which the women were preparing 
supper ; the children squatted round with eager eyes, 
the men lay near comfortably smoking their chibouks. 
A large space in the centre of the encampment was 
specially surrounded with fires for the protection of the 
flocks from wild beasts, particularly wolves, who are 
apt to come and carry ofi" a good meal. 

134 Syria and British Burmah. 

We were received here with more ceremonious 
poHteness than genuine hospitality. In spite of every 
demonstration of respect a certain embarrassment was 
evident. Lieutenant Lynch soon got to the bottom Oi 
it, and his observations of an influence from high quar- 
ters adverse to the Expedition were confirmed. The 
English and the navigation of the Euphrates were a 
thorn in Ibrahim Pacha's side ; he considered himself 
to be sole master of Syria, and here was a handful 
of foreigners about to dispute his possession. This was 
too much for his ambition. But, as he did not dare to 
oppose the English openly, he secretly put all possible 
difficulties in the way of their work. He privately 
countermanded his official orders to the subject tribes 
to furnish ihe Expedition with means of transport, 
labourers, and supplies. He even inspired the free 
tnbes, who had shown themselves friendly to the Eng- 
lish, with so much fear of his revenge that they drew 
back and refused to continue their aid. Lieutenant 
Lynch, however, again succeeded in restoring con- 

The next morning we soon entered the land of the 
Euphrates, whose clear rapid waters wind through the 
landscape like a ribbon. With silent awe I greeted this 
witness and associate of the most ancient and memorable 
events in the history of the human race. It has for 
ages pursued its course unchanged, spreading blessings 
around, indifierent by whom, or whether by any, they 
have been enjoyed. Its shores are now inhabited by 
various half civilised tribes, partly agricultural, partly 
nomadic. The fertile soil repays a hundredfold the 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik, 135 

little pains bestowed upon it. Why should its owners 
aim at higher results ? They only labour to satisfy the 
unbridled avarice of their oppressor or to be phuidered 
by Bedouins. 

A range of hills of pleasing forms skirted the river 
to our left, but the entire absence of wood creates a 
void, even in this fruitful district, in the eyes of the 

When we were near Port William, Lieutenant 
Lynch hastened on, probably to apprise the com- 
mander. Colonel Chesney, of our unexpected arrival. 
He received us very politely, and hoped we would 
make ourselves as comfortable as the encampment per- 
mitted, as it was too late to reach Bir (or Birejik) on 
the other side of the river that night. 

I saw little more of the camp that evening than 
that it was surrounded by earthworks surmounted by 
a few guns. The commander lived in a flat- roofed 
house built of stamped mud, which barely kept out 
the sun, and with nothing but openings for windows ; 
besides a few small rooms, it had a good sized mess 
room for the officers. Two tents were put up for us, 
in which we were very comfortable. 

The next day being Sunday, we were invited to 
attend Divine service, which, in the absence of a clergy- 
man, was performed by Dr. Staunton, the physician of 
the Expedition. I then understood but little Enghsh, 
and nothing of the sermon that was read ; still the 
seriousness displayed by officers and men did not fail 
to induce an elevated frame of mind. Although there 
may be more of outward form and usage than inward 

136 Syria and British Bitrmah. 

devotion in tlie English Church service, it has a greater 
and more sakitary influence than many wiJl allow. In 
the most remote quarters of the globe, and under cir- 
cumstances the most various, it is a bond of union 
between every member of the English nation. 

We spent the day of rest at Port William, and 
Heifer took the opportunity of connuunicating to the 
commander the objects of our journey and his desire to 
explore the unknown interior of Asia. Whether it was 
that Heifer's love of research met an answering vein 
in the Colonel's mind, whether the perseverance with 
which we had both pursued our aims enlisted his sym- 
pathy, and he thought Heifer likely to be useful to the 
Expedition, or whatever it might be, when we were 
preparing to start for Birejik, he invited us to remain, 
proposing to us to give up the arduous land journey to 
Basrah and to make the voyage by the steamer, pro- 
vided that Heifer was willing to place his knowledge of 
natural history during the voyage at the service of the 
Expedition. It was left to the Affghans either to per- 
form the voyage as passengers or to go by land to 
Basrah and meet us there. 

Once more a momentous decision had to be made, 
the consequences of which we could not foresee, but it 
was to have signal results for our journey, and indeed 
for our future lives. 

The large steamer Euphrates was launched, al- 
though unfinished. In six weeks it was hoped she would 
be ready. The members of the Expedition, highly edu- 
cated, intelligent men, specially selected for the purpose, 
inspired us with confidence and esteem. Everything 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 137 

promised an interesting voyage. How could we but 
congratulate ourselves on the prospect of making it, 
and escaping the hardships of a land journey, of which 
we had had a sufficient taste. We thankfully accepted 
the offer, and thenceforth considered ourselves as mem- 
bers of the Expedition. 

Much as there was that was melancholy connected 
with this Expedition, by which even our hves were 
placed in jeopardy, the memory of it will ever dwell 
with me as an elevating and inspiriting episode in our 

It is to be hoped that in the course of time the 
Euphrates will be open to steam navigation, but a 
second voyage hke the first ought never to be ventured 

The two steamers, the Euphrates and Tigris^ des- 
tined for the navigation of the Euphrates, had been sent 
in iron plates from England to Iskenderoun, the harbour 
in the Mediterranean nearest the Euphrates. Thence 
they had to be conveyed by land to Port William, 
about 110 English miles. In order to perform this 
difficult task, owing to the nature of the country and the 
entire absence of roads and means of transport, roads 
had to be made over mountains and through rocky 
defiles, wagons had to be built strong enough to carry 
boilers weighing from three to five tons, and draught 
horses, or oxen, and men for conducting these loads had 
to be hired. 

For this purpose a line of transport was established 
from Suweidieh to Port William, taking advantage of 
the Orontes and the Lake of Antioch, and a stafi* of 

138 Syria and British Burmah. 

officers were allotted to each station, who were almost 
always on the march between them with their men. 
In the camp there was most dihgent labour, carpenter- 
ing and hammering in every workshop as in a great 
manufactory. Each one worked as if the completion 
of the enterprise depended upon him alone, and each 
looked eagerly forward to the time when his labours 
would be rewarded by smoothly gliding down the 
splendid river. But it was soon evident that the health 
of both officers and men would suffi3r from over exer- 
tion, the climate, bad and unusual diet, and frequent 
bivouacking in the open air. There were many sick 
to be tended as well as losses to be mourned. Inter- 
mittent fever and dysentery prevailed at every station, 
and the two medical officers of the Expedition, Dr. 
Staunton and his brother Mr. A. A. Staunton, the 
former of whom was ill himself, and could not leave the 
camp, were not sufficient to attend to the sick. Heifer 
was therefore very soon asked by the Colonel to render 
help in this department and to go immediately to Killis 
to attend Major Estcourt who was very ill. Not only 
the Major's position in the Expedition as third in rank, 
but still more his amiable character and gentlemanly 
bearing, which had inspired universal liking and es- 
teem, induced Heifer at once to accede to the request, 
although he was very reluctant to leave me alone in 

Our Affghan friends were distant with the English, 
which I attributed to the political relations of their 
country with England. I was therefore not surprised 
when they told me that they were tired of waiting and 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 139 

should make an excursion to Orfah and Diabekr, 
They set out before Heifer returned, taking with them, 
by agreement, our Turkish money, which would be use- 
less below Basrah, and giving me valuable jewels in 

I was now quite alone in the camp. The study of 
English, reading, writing, and drawing, beguiled my 
time. Two trees, the only ones in the neighbourhood, 
w^ere the limit of my daily walk ; the kind consideration 
shown me by the Colonel in my painful situation light- 
ened it as much as possible. I shall- ever gratefully 
remember the delicate courtesy with which he almost 
always accompanied me in my walk. Although unwell 
himself and suffering from fever, and very much occu- 
pied, he found time and inclination for this attention. 

Heifer found Major Estcourt in the dehrium of a 
severe typhoid fever, and weeks passed before he could 
safely leave him. Meanwhile the rainy season set in, 
and not only increased the difficulties of the under- 
taking but the numbers of the sick. The works, which 
all had to be carried on in the open air, proceeded 
but slowly, for most of the workmen were in the 
lazaretto which had had to be erected. The rain often 
turned to snow storms, which made the camping ground 
rotten. My health succumbed to these deleterious in- 
fluences, and I was attacked by a typhus fever which 
brought me to the brink of the grave. All that I 
remember of it is, that in the evening after the officers 
had left the mess room, my husband used to carry me 
into it, wrapped up in rugs, from our tent, which was 
covered with snow, as the only place protected from 

140 Syina and British Burmah, 

the weather ; that he used to watch over me by night 
and carry me back before breakfast. Thanks to his 
nursing and my vigorous constitution I recovered, 
thouo'h very slowly, and not entirely until we took 
possession of our stern cabin in the Euphrates. I shall 
never forget the day on which I was able to appear 
again at table, and was greeted with sincere pleasure 
by all present. My emotion was at its height when a 
glass of old Ehenish wine was handed to me to support 
me, for which purpose the gentlemen had kept their 
last bottle. Wine had long disappeared from their 
table, and the thick water of the Euphrates was their 
only beverage. Moments like these are graven deep 
in the memory. 

It was doubted by many whether it was possible to 
transport such heavy loads and to continue the works 
at this unfavourable time of year, and with the diffi- 
culties doubled by the opposition of the local autho- 
rities ; they advised waiting until spring. But the 
Colonel, for whom the word ' impossible ' did not exist, 
insisted with indomitable perseverance on the continu- 
ance of the works. There was the more necessity for 
this, as the funds granted for the Expedition were ex- 
hausted, and the officers were making advances from 
their own resources. At length, on the 9th of Decem- 
ber, by dint of vast efforts, the last and heaviest load, 
the boiler, was brought by 104 oxen and 52 drivers 
through a triumphal arch into the camp, adorned with 
flags for the occasion, amidst loud acclamations and a 
salvo of guns. These sounds must have been very un- 
welcome to the Mutsellim of Birejik. He had hoped 

JoMrney to Aleppo and Birejik. 141 

and done his best to frustrate success. Not long before 
he had induced the native labourers to leave the camp 
and stopped the supplies of provisions. Thus the work- 
men of the Expedition were left to themselves after 
eight of them had succumbed to the hardships tliey 
had undergone. No one but a man like Colonel Chesney 
could have carried such an undertaking through. His 
own energy stmiulated that of his subordinates. No 
one would leave any task that he had begun unfinished, 
for he knew that the commander considered that it 
could be done, and he was looked up to and trusted by 
every one. Once when he received intelligence that 
the diving bell, weighing 55 cwt., was sunk in a swamp 
far from solid ground, and that it was impossible to get 
it out, though in a high fever, he got up from his bed, 
began to dress, and ordered his horse, intending himself 
to go and see that it was done. Eemonstrances were 
useless, and not until Mr. Hector, an equally energetic 
character, promised to undertake the difficult task, did 
the Colonel give way and lie down again on his sick 
bed. He was so exclusively occupied with the Expe- 
dition that once when the hammering was stopped, not 
to disturb him, as was supposed, when almost in a state 
of unconsciousness from fever, he asked that it might 
go on, as the noise was a satisfaction to him. He 
seemed to regard all care and comfort as luxury and 
effeminacy, unworthy of any one belonging to the 
Expedition. Mr. Kilby, the English agent in Aleppo, 
bought a cantar, 504 lbs., of potatoes, for a change of 
diet for the Expedition, for the high price, certainly, of 
£8. The Colonel was much incensed at this extra va- 

142 Syria and British Btcrmah. 

gance, and desired that they should not be used, but 
distributed to the neighbouring people for seed. Nothing 
but the representation that a change of diet was really 
needful for the sick induced him to alter his purpose. 
Towards the end of December the cold at Port William 
was very severe, the thermometer stood at 25° Fahren- 
heit, and the windows of our little cabin were thickly 
frozen. We used all our wits to protect ourselves from 
the cold on the river within the iron walls, and suc- 
ceeded better than others. One day the Colonel was 
pacing the deck shivering and shaking ; Heifer invited 
him into our cabin ; he honoured us with a visit, looked 
round, and said, 'Why, you look quite comfortable 
here.' Heifer showed him the windows stuffed with 
wadding and other contrivances; without another word 
he turned away and went up on deck again. Never- 
theless he knew how to value the services of his officers 
and to procure for them the recognition they deserved. 

Notwithstanding every effort, the completion of the 
steamer proceeded but slowly, and it was evident that 
she could not start before spring. Meanwhile we had 
heard from the Affghans. They had proceeded with a 
caravan, the last in the year, to Baghdad and Basrah, 
and would wait for us there. Impatient as we were to 
continue our journey and proceed onwards with them, 
every way but by the voyage down the Euphrates was 
now cut off, and we had to submit to the inevitable. 

The Colonel resolved to employ the weary waiting 
time in an exploring expedition to the Taurus moun- 
tains ; but the heavy rains which in this variable 
chmate had succeeded to frost, and his state of health. 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik, 143 

occasioned it to be put off from clay to clay. At length, 
on the 9th of January, after a bright frost had again 
put an end to the rains, the excursion was really to 
start. The wags of the Expedition, who, in spite of the 
gravity of the situation, had not lost their good humour, 
called it the hospital expedition. 

Chesney set out at the head of his troop, accom- 
panied by Lieutenant Murphy, the astronomer, an 
amiable and scientific man, but never ready, and there- 
fore called Mr. Tardy, and by Mr. Ainsworth, who, 
animated by the same zeal for the Expedition as the 
Colonel himself, vvas his constant companion, and 
therefore called Tertius. All shivered with cold, and 
could scarcely conceal their weakness. 

The stables also had had a bad time of it m camp, 
and many a lame rosinanie was brought out» The 
Colonel, wrapped in his cloak, was assisted to mount, 
but without his servant's help he would have slipped 
over on the other side. The other gentlemen were 
not much better. Heifer could not refuse the Colonel's 
invitation to go, though for his objects there was not 
much to be looked for in snow a foot deep. 

Melancholy as the sight of the sick Colonel was, 
and much as I feared that he would never come back, 
I could not forbear a smile, he reminded me so strongly 
of the knight of the rueful countenance. Nevertheless, 
after some weeks of arduous marching among the 
Taurus mountains, they did come back, fresh and in 
good preservation : a proof of what may be accom- 
plished by resolute will, and of the value of change of 
air and scene in climatic fevers. 

144 Syria and British Burmah, 

Heifer only accompanied them as far as Aintab ; 
tlie impossibility of finding anything among the snow- 
covered mountains, and anxiety about me, left alone at 
Port William, determined him to return. At Aintab 
he made the acquaintance of a fellow-countryman, 
Herr Comenus, a mihtary surgeon, in the service of 
Ibrahim Pacha ; he invited us to pay him a long visit, 
and we resolved, to avoid staying at Port William at 
this unhealthy season, to go to Aintab, and thence to 
Aleppo, to our friends the Pochers. A few hours after 
Heifer's return we were ready to start. There w^ere no 
dresses and adornments to pack, as in Europe, one 
^reat advantage at any rate. 

Supplied with horses by the obliging Major Est- 
court, we reached Arul, though amidst heavy snow 
storms, the same day, and met with a kind reception in 
an Armenian family. 

The ladies, who were in a separate room, invited 
me to take a seat at the tandour to warm myself. As I 
much needed warmth, I sat down at once in the space 
made for me at this novel contrivance. In the middle 
of the floor there was a circular opening about two 
feet deep ; in this was a large pan of coals ; over it a 
frame standing on four legs, on which was placed a 
wadded coverlet extending far beyond the opening. 
The ladies sat round this in a circle, their feet hanging 
inside, the upper part of the body bent forward, the 
arms up to the shoulders under the cover, so that their 
heads, bound up in thick handkerchiefs, and their 
backs, covered with fur jackets, were all that was to 
be seen of them. A hand ventured out now and then 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik, 145 

to guide the end of the nargileh into the mouth. This 
is how the women sit during the short but severe 
winter. The tandour is the only means of warming 
rooms without windows at a temperature of 26° 

Much snow fell during the night ; our horses sank 
up to their knees, and our guide told us melancholy- 
stories of a troop of soldiers who had been attacked 
and torn to pieces by wolves on this road. Happily 
preserved, however, from a similar fate, we reached 
Aintab in safety. 

Aintab is one of the most important towns of 
Armenia, and is finely situated at the foot of the 
Taurus mountains. Watered by the Sajur, and sur- 
rounded by fruit gardens, it has always been a centre 
of traffic between Antakia, Orfah, and Aleppo. The 
castle, built upon an isolated rock, like that of Aleppo, 
served as a strong fortress even during the time of the 
Egyptian Caliphates and the Crusades. It was now 
occupied as an outpost by Ibrahim Pacha's troops. 
Airy minarets pleasantly broke the uniformity of the 
mass of flat-roofed houses. The population was about 
20,000 : two-thirds Mussulmans and one-third Arme- 
nian Christians. 

Herr Comenus received us with exceptional polite- 
ness, but, as it seemed to me, with some embarrass- 
ment. Perhaps, I thought, his invitation was not sin- 
cerely meant, and was only a customary coiu:tesy 
among fellow-countrymen in the East ; at all events, 
he was evidently not at his ease. But when he apolo- 
gised for the absence of his wife, an Armenian, on the 
VOL. I. L 

146 Syria and British Burmah, 

pretext of a great wash, it was all explained, for among 
mv beloved German housewives in such a case a visitor 
is unwelcome. At length she came in. Heifer had 
prepared me for finding her a small-minded, bashful 
person, rather the servant than companion of her hus- 
band. As to the smallness of her mind he was not 
mistaken, but it seemed to relieve her from any parti- 
cular bashfulness. Her face would not have been ugly 
if the Aleppo carbuncle had not disfigured the left half 
of it, and made it so unlike the right that she might 
have represented two different persons. Her dress, 
even by the standard of the country, was not neat, but 
it had not been improved by the household occupation 
she had just been engaged in, for her sleeves were so 
wet that they clung to her arms. Making her salaam 
in the most phlegmatic manner, not a feature betraying 
the least sensation, she sat down by me on the sofa. 

I did my utmost to make myself agreeable by 
friendly gestures and smiles, but my efforts were all 
thrown away, no change took place in her stolid coun- 
tenance. I could do no more ; we sat side by side in 
silence, and even her husband, who offered his services 
as interpreter and playfully suggested subjects, could 
not succeed in making her more animated. The only 
thing that could rouse her out of her apathy was any- 
thing relating to spending or making money ; in all 
money matters she held sway. She was so indolent 
that she left the room unswept for days ; one day, to 
put her to the test, I seized the broom myself, as if 
I were going to sweep it, but she looked quietly 
on as she sat on the sofa. I no longer troubled myself 
about her. 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 147 

Aintab afforded me an interesting opportunity of 
making acquaintance with the family life of the Arme- 
nian Christians, which is little known to Europeans, 
and it is difficult for strangers to get access to them, as 
the women do not appear before men. The Arme- 
nians are about on a par with the Turks as to civilisa- 
tion. Timid and reserved, they submit outwardly to 
the rulers, whom they secretly despise. 

Chiefly and successfully occupied with trade, they 
often amass great wealth, but carefully conceal it ; 
the most wealthy keep up an appearance of poverty, 
for which, owing to the rapacity of the Turkish govern- 
ment, they may have good reason. The habit of 
heaping up riches, which they neither spend nor enjoy, 
and the tendency to avarice is handed down from 
father to son, and clings to them wherever they go. 
They are scattered almost all over the East as wealthy 
merchants, but their characteristics are everywhere the 

The Armenian women enjoy no better position 
than the Turkish ; they are merely the servants of 
their husbands. Indeed, while the sensual Mussulman 
often becomes the slave of his slaves, the cold Arme- 
nian merchant is always the strict master of his wife. 
They perform the household duties as mere girls ; they 
do not eat with their husbands, but wait upon them 
as their lords. They are unveiled indoors, but do not 
allow themselves to be seen by any strange man. When 
there is company, they keep in a place on purpose, 
a kind of box about ^vo, feet from the ground, in the 
great hall of the house, screened by latticework. From 

L 2 

14B Syria and British Burmah. 

this they can look down upon the men at their feasting 
without being seen. It is the more to be regretted, as 
the screen often conceals a galaxy of beauties. At 
Aintab I really saw the much lauded Oriental beauties 
w^hom I had hitherto looked for in vain. 

The relations and friends of my hostess came, as 
Oriental custom requires, to pay their respects to me ; 
I was as much an object of curiosity to them as they 
were to me. As they could only speak Armenian or 
Arabic, our conversation was limited, and could only 
be carried on with the help of Herr Comenus as inter- 
preter. They expressed astonishment and regret that 
I had had to leave my mother and brothers and sisters, 
and shook their heads when told that I had accom- 
panied my husband of my own free will. ' A hus- 
band,' they said, with a contemptuous shrug of the 
shoulders, ' is not worth leaving one's people for.' They 
received my assurance with incredulity that I w^as ready 
to follow him wherever he chose to go, and of the 
pleasure of seeing the world they could form no more 
idea than of conjugal happiness, for they never leave 
their native place. Betrothed as mere children by 
parental authority, they see scarcely anything of their 
husbands before they are married, and afterwards the 
entire engrossment of the husband in money making 
and his despotic relations with his wife are not calcu- 
lated to awaken affection. Affection for parents and 
brothers and sisters absorbs all the tenderness of the 
female heart, and a mother's love often becomes a 
passion. After our visitors had been amply regaled 
with liqueurs and coffee, and had filled the room with 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 149 

the vapours of the nargileh, they departed to make 
way for others, for whom the entertaimnent was 

As I have said before, I was greatly surprised, 
among the twenty w^omen whom I saw that morning, 
to see at least eight classic beauties. The regular oval 
of the face, the finely formed nose, the large dark eyes 
shaded by long thick eyelashes, the brilhant com- 
plexions of these southerners form an incomparable 
whole ; but they are destitute of the nobler charms 
added by mental culture and care of the person. Their 
dress shows an utter absence of good taste and eye for 
neatness ; generally made of thick silk, torn and soiled, 
inherited perhaps from mother or grandmother, the 
coarsest and most untidy linen peeps from beneath it. 
The neck and arms, if not accidentally cleaned by a 
Turkish bath, look dusky, as they do not wash them in 
the house. The hands are fat and coarse, like those of 
a servant, and the inside and the nails coloured red. 
They place the highest value on jewellery, especially 
on the head dress, a high silver casket, the cover of 
which, made of ornamental Venetian open work, is 
hung round with gold coins. The number and size of 
the gold chains round the neck, and bracelets on the 
arms, announce the wealth and position of the wearer. 
But with all this they are not without natural grace, 
and are free from that awkwardness which often takes 
refuge in tasteless ornament amongst women whose edu- 
cation just suffices to make them feel the want of it. 

The next morning I returned the visits of some of 
these ladies belonging to the well-to-do merchant class ; 

150 Syria and British Burmah. 

everywhere I found the same lack of comfort, the same 
appearance of poverty. In most of the large rooms 
the extreme cold is allowed to penetrate through un- 
glazed windows, closed with a shutter at night, and 
open doors, and the pan of coals affords but little pro- 
tection against it. It is inconceivable how these people, 
accustomed to great heat in summer, can exist in such 
airy houses with two feet of snow on the ground. The 
theory that a store of warmth protects for a long time 
against cold seems to hold good here. In our northern 
climates no one could bear such cold indoors. 

Among all these women I found only one distin- 
guished by mental endowments. Tagu, a girl of 
fifteen, was the daughter of one of the richest Arme- 
nian merchants. She was of middle size, slender, and 
without the fulness of figure so admired by Asiatics. 
Prom under the close fitting tarbush flowed rich 
chestnut-coloured locks, richly adorned with gazi, 
Turkish gold coins. Her soft brown eyes, finely 
formed and shaded by long dark lashes, betrayed the 
awakened soul which her countrywomen lack ; a sweet 
smile played about her hps, and gave her a child-like 
naivete to which a sort of dignity was lent by the 
finely-arched nose. Her obhging manners, her efibrts 
to make herself agreeable, confirmed the expression of 
her countenance. She listened attentively when Herr 
Comenus translated to her my descriptions of Europe 
and the life of women there ; she clung to and caressed 
me, and entreated me to take her with me ; she would 
wait upon and follow me, and be faithful and obedient. 
I had some difiiculty in pacifying the lovely creature, 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 151 

and in explaining to her that she could not go with us, 
because we were not going to Europe, but still farther 
to foreign lands. 

I sincerely and deeply regretted having to leave 
her to a father who cared for nothing but money- 
making, a bigoted mother, and a betrothed unworthy 
of her. In her seventh year she had been betrothed 
to a boy of nine, who was to be brought up as a gold- 
worker, and whose training turned out most unfortu- 
nately, for he took to idleness for his business, and to 
drinking for his pleasure ; and poor Tagu was to be 
given to this good-for-nothing fellow ! The Armenians 
consider betrothal as a sacred vow, from which they 
can only be released by priestly authority. 

Nowhere, perhaps, is the influence of the priests 
greater than among the Armenians of the present day. 
Without the safeguard of salutary laws for the regula- 
tion of public and private life, subject to the arbitrary 
rule of the Turk, without any champions of their rights, 
they allow the priests full sway. Priests decide dis- 
putes as judges and law-givers, and when they cannot 
put a stop to earthly evils they offer pastoral consola- 
tion by referring the faithful to a future life and 
recompense hereafter. In short their influence is un- 
bounded. But wherever power has been wielded by 
priests they have misused it ; how could anything be 
expected from these rough and ignorant men but the 
spiritual despotism they impose upon this politically 
oppressed people ? 

Two of these gentlemen came to pay their respects 
to us. One was an elderly, well-fed, self-complaisant, 

152 Syria and British Burmak. 

smiling man, with a smooth, full-moon face and red 
nose ; he needs no farther description ; these people 
are only too well known, who, having no liking for 
castigations themselves, do not impose them on others, 
but live and let live. Spirituous liquors appeared 
to suit him ; he nodded, well pleased, to our host, 
when he handed him a brimming glass and said, with 
an ironical smile, that the very Eev. Father was fond 
of a glass. ' Well,' said he, ' it's a human weakness,' 
and gulped down the spirits until he had taken his fill, 
and sauntered away to repeat the scene somewhere 
else. This is called here taking a bit of breakfast. 

The other was a younger and thinner man, with a 
thin arched nose, eyes sanctimoniously kept on the 
ground, firmly compressed lips, and a physiognomy 
which would have done honour to a Tartuffe. He 
took his seat modestly and reverently on a cushion, 
and, carefully avoiding the posture of the infidel Turks, 
sat with his legs hanging straight down, wrapped in a 
most Christian manner in his gown, to the edification 
of all beholders. Being a secret worshipper of the 
green bottle he smiled bashfully when the glass was 
handed to him ; but our host knew him well, and 
ostensibly pressing him, he filled one bumper after 
another, which he swallowed with averted face. This 
reverend father, with his soft sneaking manners, was, in 
consequence of the edifying discourses he delivered, the 
chief spiritual adviser of the Armenian fair ones. 

Our host wished to ask a number of the ladies 
to dinner, and thus to give them an entertainment 
after European fashion. But this was an unusual 

Journey to Aleppo and Birejik. 153 

thing, and it was necessary to obtain the priest's con- 
sent ; he refused it, of course with all due gentleness 
and meekness. Herr Comenus then invited a party 
without ladies, when the reverend father gave us his 
company, and displayed an appetite truly astounding. 

Tagu seemed as if she could not be separated from 
me ; she came often, and brought her elder sister with 
her. Though not so pretty, her features were pleasing ; 
but she was meanly dressed, and wore no ornaments ; 
her hair, instead of hanging down in luxuriant braids, 
was concealed under a little tarbush. She took her 
place behind her sister, on whom she gazed with affec- 
tionate pleasure, and her sole desire seemed to be to 
anticipate the wants and wishes of others, and to wait 
upon everybody. I was naturally much struck with 
the contrast between the sisters, and asked the elder 
why she did not wear pearls and gazi on her head ; 
whereupon she answered, with a blush, that she should 
never be married. 1 did not understand her meaning 
until I learnt afterwards, that, though the Armenians 
have no convents for women, many of their daughters 
take a voluntary vow never to marry, and then re- 
nounce all ornaments, and strictly practise religious 
observances, but consider it to be their chief duty to 
make themselves useful to their relatives. Considering 
the family relations I have described, in which the 
conjugal tie is not nearly so strong as that between 
brothers and sisters, the vow of celibacy can be no 
great sacrifice to a girl. 

A Mr. Georg, gold- worker, schoolmaster, and 
painter of saints, chiefly, however, dealer in novelties, 

154 Syria and British Burmak. 

in a word, factotum of Aintab in the arts and sciences, 
had heard of our being in the place, and came to see 
us. Visits from European travellers in this part of the 
world are always important events, especially to a 
schoolmaster with a thirst for knowledge. Perhaps .he 
thought that he should derive all kinds of wisdom from 
the mere sight of Europeans, and from breathing the 
same air, for there could be no special communications. 
Nevertheless he invited us to dinner. Not wishing to 
offend the man of learning, and to have an opportunity 
of seeing his wife, whose beauty, I had been told, was 
unequalled, we accepted the invitation on condition 
that his wife should dine with us, for we had heard 
that she was never visible, and extremely shy and 

Completely frozen, and with wet feet, we arrived at 
our polite entertainer's house. I longed to be warmed, 
and hoped the learned gentleman would have made 
some progress in the amenities of life, and would have 
provided a warm room. But I was disappointed ; I 
shall never foro^et the intolerable cold I suffered there. 
We were received in the great hall used on festive 
occasions, in which two doors and windows wide open 
exposed us mercilessly to the cold air. Often as in my 
own country I had had to pay with a headache for the 
close stove-heat at church festivals and christenings, I 
now devoutly longed for an old grandfatherly Dutch 
tile stove. We wrapped ourselves as well as we could 
in our shawls. I could not get the idea into my head 
that I was on Syria's sun-burnt steppes. What erro- 
neous notions we have of distant lands when we only 
visit them on the map. 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik, 155 

At last came dinner, by our express wish served 
according to the custom of the country. A mat was 
spread before us, and in the middle of it was placed a 
round tray, raised a few inches on feet ; and on this a 
tin dish containing pilaw. A wooden spoon for help- 
ing it showed advanced civilisation. This, a dish with 
sauce, and another of cakes fried in oil, with a little 
glass of good liqueur, formed the whole dinner. We 
took our places on cushions in a circle, and helped 
ourselves with appetites sharpened by the cold. I had 
looked in vain for our pretty hostess ; her husband 
excused her by saying she was engaged in the kitchen, 
and presented his mother instead, a kindly old lady. 
I was no better satisfied with the exchange than the 
gentlemen, and when the cooking was over, insisted on 
the appearance of the lady of the house. It was hard 
to make the Armenian understand that it was opposed 
to all the respect due to his wife to let her work in the 
kitchen while we sat at table : according to his notions 
it was quite in order. But when he saw that I was 
determined not to begin until she gave us her com- 
pany, he went to fetch her. His long absence con- 
vinced me that it was not easy to induce her to come. 
At last, led in by him with evident reluctance, she 
appeared. Her face almost concealed by a handker- 
chief over the high casket, she approached us shyly 
and shamefacedly. After much pressing she took her 
place next to me, avoiding my searching glances as 
much as possible. But she could not be persuaded to 
partake of the meal. I almost forgot to eat myself, I 
was so engrossed with gazing at her. 

156 Syria and British Burmah. 

It is impossible to imagine more lovely features 
than hers, and her complexion was of a dazzling, almost 
sickly transparence. A slight flush suffused her cheeks 
whenever our eyes were turned towards her, and her 
soft blue eyes shaded by dark lashes begged us with 
touching entreaty not to molest her with our gaze. Her 
modesty seemed to be deeply wounded by being an 
object of general admiration. There was something 
spiritual, I may almost say nun-like, about her which 
was as little as possible like one's idea of the busy wife 
of a schoolmaster. 

I should have liked to include her, Tagu, and many 
other beauties whom I afterwards saw, among my 
specimens of natural history, and to have put them in a 
cabinet of curiosities at home ; they would certainly 
have attracted many admirers. 

I learnt afterwards that her romantically melan- 
choly expression was caused by her having no children 
after ^nq years of marriage ; according to their ideas, 
childlessness is a disgrace and the greatest sorrow that 
can befall a woman. Hella and her husband had been 
betrothed as children of ^^^ and eight years, and had 
associated together as brother and sister, until Hella 
was twelve, when they were married. She had a sister 
with her, not nearly so beautiful, quietly dressed, and 
without ornaments ; she seated herself at a respectful 
distance. They told me she was a widow, and as such 
it would be unbecoming for her to wear any kind of 
ornament, or to mix with those happy women whose 
husbands God had preserved to them. All that I saw 
and heard brought forcibly to my mind the great con- 

yotirney to Aleppo and Birejik. 157 

trast between the position of Asiatic and European 

My mamaluke costume enabled me to walk out in 
the streets of Aintab, which I could not have done in a 
woman's dress without exposing myself to insult. The 
Mussulmans were not yet accustomed to see women 
unveiled, nor man and wife walking arm in arm ; in 
their eyes the greatest disgrace and degradation to a 

The mihtary occupation of the town made it much 
more lively than usual, with its comparatively small 
population. Still the streets, as in all Turkish towns, 
had a gloomy aspect, owing to the high court walls 
without windows ; but the bazaar, with its buyers and 
sellers, was particularly lively, from the soldiers mingling 
with the people, making purchases for dinner, or 
crowding round the steaming eating booths where a 
sort of relishing cutlet was sold. In spite of Heifer's 
long beard, and our great endeavours to look like 
Orientals, we were at once recognised as Europeans, 
and not seldom heard the exclamation, 'Engliska 
Giaour!' For since the Euphrates Expedition had 
been in the neighbourhood, every foreigner was taken 
for an Enghshman, and the insulting word Giaour, 
almost gone out of use among civilised Turks, was quite 
a customary expression in fanatical Aintab. 

In our walks we met General Hamsa Bey, a very 
young man for his rank. It was Ibrahim Pacha's 
pohcy to fill many of the high posts in his army with 
young Georgian slaves, whose qualities, especially their 
cunning, adapted them for it, and on whose subservience 

158 Syria and B^'itish Burmah. 

he could rely. In the General's suite was the Governor 
of the fortress, a stout Egyptian with only one eye, and 
no longer young. Herr Comenus introduced us as his 
countrymen, two brothers, travelling together, where- 
upon the stout gentleman looked narrowly at me, and 
clapping Heifer on the back, said, 'A pretty brother 
that I ' and went on with a laugh. 

The next day we were surprised by a visit from the 
two gentlemen. Following close upon the heels of 
those who announced them they entered without cere- 
mony, to the horror of our hostess, who saved herself by 
flight from the gaze of the strange men. Herr Comenus 
was also rather embarrassed, for he had never been 
honoured by a visit from these lofty gentlemen before. 
It was evident that the object of their call was to 
learn more about the hated Expedition, and to show 
their familiarity with European manners. We satisfied 
their curiosity so far as seemed good to us ; we took 
care to represent the enterprise, the success of which 
w^e had ourselves begun to doubt, as undoubtedly 
approaching completion. In order to enliven conver- 
sation I showed them my sketch book ; the eye of the 
Governor fell upon the portrait of a very pretty 
Englishwoman of fair complexion. He was enchanted 
with this, to him, new style of beauty ; he was 
acquainted only with that of the south. He then pas- 
sionately expressed a desire to our host that he would 
buy the lady for him — really and truly — ^let it cost 
what it would ! We stared. He was really in earnest. 
After we had with much difficulty persuaded him of 
the impossibility of it, he exclaimed, much put out, 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 159 

' Well, theD I will at least have her picture ? ' This I 
could grant him and made him a present of it. 

When the gentlemen took leave they invited me to 
visit their ladies ; they did not speak of a harem. 

We ascended to the citadel, whose massive walls 
have withstood the ravages of time, and which was 
now only occupied by soldiers. A guard received us, 
and without asking what we wanted, took us into a 
great hall. In the midst of the space was a mixed 
multitude, mostly belonging to the lower classes. Their 
faces betrayed the most various emotions, from rancour 
and arrogant self-assertion to servility and abject re- 
signation. Others squatted round the walls, in miserable 
rags, hopelessly staring before them. They were 
country people bewailing their hard fate ; but no one 
expressed his feelings ; profound silence reigned. 

We must have inspired the guard with respect ; 
making way for us by cuffing and pushing, he con- 
ducted us to the upper end of the hall, separated by a 
barrier, where, to our astonishment, sitting comfortably 
on a cushion, was the Governor, presiding at a sort of 
public court. His officers sat beside him in a semi- 
circle to the right and left, as well as some scribes, 
distinguishable by the writing implements in their 
girdles ; they had to be at the service of his Excellency 
in intricate cases. On the ground was a large pan, from 
which was exhaled the pleasant perfume of the cele- 
brated Latakieh tobacco ; the long pipe of each one was 
passed through one of the holes round the edge, and 
thus they smoked together. The Governor looked very 
stern, but on seeing us a slight smile passed over his 

i6o Syria and British Burmah. 

face, he made a sign to us to come nearer and take 
seats by him. Long gilt pipes, like that from which 
the smoke encircled the Governor's head, were handed 
to us. I could not smoke, but for the sake of appearance 
I blew hard into the pipe so that thick clouds rose up ; 
I also, though not without difficulty, crossed my feet 
under me, but preserved silence, for my voice had often 
betrayed me. Thus outward decorum was preserved, 
and none of the Mussulmans present seemed to detect a 
Christian lady in the unabashed mamaluke, especially 
as my presence was tolerated by the Governor. How 
had times changed, and how may they change yet? 
Perhaps I was the first woman who had ever sat by 
the judge in open court. Let us hope that still greater 
changes may take place in the East. 

The proceedings were as summary as they were 
drastic. A plaintifi* came forward ; silent as he had 
been before, he now poured forth a volley of accusations 
against the poor culprit, who was led or dragged in, 
and from whose rueful face and trembling limbs one 
could see that he knew the fate awaiting him. The 
indictment was brought forward, and a few words said 
to the accused, whereupon, in a pitiful voice, he pro- 
tested that he was innocent. The Governor only seemed 
to lend half an ear to it all ; he considered for a few 
moments, and then with a stentorian voice pronounced 
sentence, and away went the poor sinners to the 

The scene was repulsive to us, and we availed our- 
selves of the first pause to ri^e ; with a respectful 
salutation to the Governor, as soon as Turkish dignity 

yourney to A leppo and Birejik. 1 6 1 

would permit, we left the assembly, glad to breathe the 
free air of heaven again, cold as it was. 

We next paid a visit to the General. Like a 
finished Frank dandy he advanced to meet us in the 
inner court, which was filled with officers, gallantly 
offered me his arm, to the horror of his subordinates, 
and led me a few steps up into the interior apartments. 
Two young slaves, splendidly dressed, opened the door 
of a light, spacious room. The soft carpets on the floor, 
a great divan along the wall, and several pieces of 
European furniture scattered about, gave it an appear- 
ance of half Asiatic, half European luxury. Immediately 
on our entrance the door opposite opened, and a female 
form appeared, not strikingly beautiful, but very 
pleasing ; on her head the becoming fez, with a light 
gauze handkerchief round it embroidered with gold. 

Her slight figure was shown to advantage by the 
close-fitting dress of a Turkish lady. My gallant host at 
once advanced to meet her, took her by the hand, and led 
her to me. This was the first and only time I ever saw 
a Mussulman in actual contact with a woman, as in the 
presence of others they maintain the strictest reserve. 
Shyly and with a blush she gave me her other hand, 
and with a gracious bend invited me to sit beside her 
on the divan, not after Turkish but European fashion. 
Her face was expressive, and her eyes soft and modest. 
I should have liked to talk long and much with her, 
and to discover what was in her mind, but unfortunately 
there was no interpreter at hand. Heifer had remained 
with the officers, and the few words of Turkish which 
I could speak, and the General's few French phrases, 
VOL. I. M 

1 62 Syria and British Burmah. 

did not suffice for conversation. As usual, coffee and a 
variety of sweet fruits were offered me, but not a nar- 
gileh. I took leave with sincere regret that I could 
not converse better with this interesting lady. 

The Governor's wife had also to be visited ; Madame 
Comenus went with me, being sure of not finding any 
men there. My costume occasioned difficulties, the 
guards hesitating to allow me to enter ; it was only 
after the repeated assurances of my companion that I 
really was a woman in disguise, that I was permitted 
to enter the inner apartment of the women. To my 
astonishment it was more like a gipsy's cave than the 
luxurious abode of a Turkish favourite. Although it 
was mid-day the low vaulted chamber was only spar- 
ingly lighted by a lamp, so that it was some time before 
I could see what it contained. Articles of dress, from 
worn-out rags to gold-embroidered tunics, all in heaps 
together, implements for cooking and eating, drums 
and cymbals, all alike dirty, lay and hung in the 
greatest confusion on the ground and on the walls. 
The room was filled by a large number of black women 
and girls, slaves or companions, squatting on the ground 
in a half circle round their mistress. She was a striking 
contrast to them. She reclined on a soft cushion of 
splendid material, under a canopy adorned with gold 
embroidery, enveloped in a transparent veil, and was 
apparently asleep. The noise occasioned by our en- 
trance and the rising of the attendants awakened the 
sleeping beauty. She slowly rose, and with a careless 
movement removed the veil from her face, but let it 
fall immediately on seeing me, and extending one of 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 163 

the roundest, whitest arms I ever saw, she pointed with 
displeasure to the door, as a sign that I should at once 
withdraw. Madame Comenus, who ^vas on friendly terms 
with her, now explained who I was, why I had adopted 
a man's dress, and that I had been pressingly invited 
by the Governor to come and see her. Upon this the 
veil, again thrown back, disclosed such dazzhng beauty 
as is but rarely met with except in Oriental fairy tales. 
Much as it differed from European beauty it diverged 
almost as much from the usual Asiatic type. What 
might be the land of her birth .^ It was as if the good 
fairies had united the peculiar charms of all nations 
in her person. An alabaster whiteness and transparent 
purity of skin, which seemed as if derived from the far 
north, gave her something of the ethereal and spiritual, 
but the earthly asserted itself again in the luxuriant 
fulness of her figure. The fire of her dark eyes and her 
pecuharly glossy black hair showed her to be a 
daughter of the tropics, while an almost childish phy- 
siognomy, which reminded me of our Mignon faces, 
betrayed European blood. In fact she combined the 
characteristics of several parts of the world. I could 
learn nothing more of her ancestry than that she was 
an Egyptian slave, the child of slaves in Nubia. When 
it is considered that types of all nations are represented 
in the slave market at Cairo, such a mixture seems not 

I stood long in astonishment before I took a seat 
near her, which, on account of its stationary inhabitants, 
was by no means inviting. Our conversation was 
limited to a few words of mutual greeting ; but I was 

K 2 

1 64 Syria and British Bur^nah. 

entirely taken up with the contemplation of her perfect 

Meanwhile, negro boys and girls, clad in most 
fantastic fashion, tumultuously arranged themselves for 
a dance ; some of the old women seized the drums and 
cymbals, others prepared to sing, while a pretty negress 
handed coffee. The scene bore immistakable evidence 
of Egyptian origin, and I was vividly reminded of our 
gipsy hordes and of Weber's 'Preciosa.' My neighbour 
would certainly have been the lovehest Preciosa ever 
seen on the stage ; but she took no part in the merri- 
ment, she looked on with indifference at the oft-repeated 
mummery. She was not well ; the flushes which came 
and went on her pale face betrayed how severe was the 
pain she was trying to conceal. She had been confined 
six weeks before, and was suffering from a bad breast. 
Comenus, her physician, if I may call him so, had never 
been allowed to see her without her veil, and her 
deeply-rooted prejudices would not permit him to 
examine the affected part. He was not a little per- 
plexed, as the anxious Governor daily urged him to cure 
his beautiful wife, and had asked me to give him an 
exact description of her state. But neither could I 
induce her to let me see her breast ; she turned her 
dark pensive eyes on me at the suggestion, and more 
suspiciously than before she eyed my dress, and my, 
to Asiatic women, unusual height. So to my sincere 
regret I had to leave her to her sufferings without 

After Aintab had gratified my desire, beyond my 
expectations, to see Eastern beauties, there was nothing 

yourney to Aleppo and Birejik. 165 

farther to interest me. We left it after a stay of some 
weeks, wtien the weather became milder, in order to 
accept the invitation of our good friend and countryman 
Pocher to spend the rest of the winter season, until the 
steamers should start, at his house at Aleppo. 

We were heartily welcomed by oiu: friends, and I 
gave myself up to the enjoyments of which I had so long 
been deprived, the comforts of a well-ordered home, 
and intercourse with educated people. 

Herr Khnger too, had looked forward to our 
coming ; he could now complete his musical produc- 
tions ; all forces were united, and our evenings enlivened 
by many a successful concert. 

Spring comes in warm and early after the short 
severe winter; by the end of February the air was 
mild, and all nature was reviving. Heifer could then 
no longer endure to be within the city walls ; he longed 
to be in the open air, to renew his explorations, and to 
collect specimens for the benefit of the Expedition. 

Here follow the notes from Heifer's diary verbatim, 
which, with a few other scanty remains of his papers, 
were saved from destruction. 

1 66 Syria and B^dtish Burmah> 


(From Dr. Heifer^ s Diary. ^ 

On the 24tli of February my wife and I, Herr Klinger 
n,nd Herr Franz Hübner, who accompanied us from 
fellow feeling as countrymen, set out to visit the Salt 
Lake El-Malak, which supplies a great part of Syria 
with salt ; also the chain of basaltic mountains which 
traverses the middle of the plain, and to collect orni- 
thological, entomological, and botanical specimens for 
the Expedition. 

Leaving behind the ohve and fig gardens, which 
extend for two or three miles from Aleppo in a 
southerly direction, by degrees all trees disappeared, 
and even the brushwood came to an end. We passed 
through a gradually rising rocky district, and then 
descended into the plain, which was lost in the 
distant horizon. The singular uniformity was only 
broken by three or four of the low, conical hills so 
frequent in Syria. The lowest part of this plain, about 

1 A report of this excursion appears in Chesney's ' Narrative of tlie 
Euphrates Expedition ' (Appendix VI. p. 439), but with variations. All 
personal particulars are omitted, and it bears internal evidence of having 
been written in English by Dr. Heifer himself. — Tß. 

Excursion to the Salt Lake El-Malak. 167 

thirteen miles from Aleppo, is formed by the Salt Lake 

In the village of Sfri we met with an unexpectedly 
good reception in the house of an old woman whose 
son was a hunter. Her house was clean, and so were 
the beds which she prepared for us on mats, and a 
stewed pilaw was very good. The villagers, agricul- 
tural Arabs, had made remarkable progress in civilisa- 
tion. Their houses are made of stamped earth, and 
resemble beehives ; the door, placed opposite to the 
prevailing wind, gives hght and air. These conical 
round houses are very small ; when the family increases 
they are not enlarged, but new ones built as they are 
wanted, so that four or ^n^ of them, close together, often 
belong to one family. The women go about unveiled, 
and the arrangements of the dwellmgs and mode of 
living indicated, as far as I could see, a monogamic 
rather than a polygamic family life. The men diligently 
cultivated the ground, and even young mulberry planta- 
tions were to be seen. They said that they wilhngly 
payed tribute to the government in Aleppo to be pro- 
tected from being plundered by the wandering Arab 
tribes, who, before Ibrahim Pacha's rigid rule, advanced 
even to the city walls. This Arab village afforded 
pleasing evidence that culture and civilisation might 
easily be introduced here under due protection and 

The son of our old hostess and another powerful 
Arab were persuaded to accompany us. The next 
morning we started before daybreak for the salt lake, 
about two miles southwards from the village, and at this 

r 68 Syria and British Burmah. 

season mucli larger than in summer. A rivulet rises 
northward from Sfri, and flows into the lake. Owing 
to the slight fall it forms numerous swamps, which had 
been increased by the winter floods, and large tracts of 
land were turned into marshes. The oases among 
them were filled with Juncacece^ but were quite desti- 
tute of long grass, as was also the shore of the lake 
itself, which presented a most monotonous appearance. 
About a mile off we saw several small inlets ; but we 
were prevented from examining the lake more closely 
by the impassable morass and want of boats. 

A large number of water-fowl of various kinds 
frequent the lake and its shores, but nowhere have I 
found them so shy. Even when we were a long way 
off thousands of wild ducks, geese, and other water- 
fowl rose up on our approach with a noise like distant 
thunder, and took refuge in the middle of the lake, 
where they looked like dark, moving islands. In spite 
of the difficulties we pursued the game with great zest, 
and were rewarded by considerable booty, for which 
we were chiefly indebted to our Arab hunter, who did 
not hesitate to go into the water up to his neck, and 
incited two excellent dogs to fetch the birds. 

I cannot determine the extent of the lake, as it now 
exceeds its usual boundaries by over one half: ac- 
cording to our guides, at this season it would take a 
day and a half to walk round it. The water is some- 
what bitter, and does not at present contain much salt. 
The method of obtaining it is very simple. During 
the summer heat the water evaporates and retires, 
leaving in the deeper parts the pure crystals of salt, 

Excursion to the Salt Lake El-Malak. 169 

whicli are collected and carried on tlie backs of camels 
to the various districts of Syria. In my opinion a 
great part of the vast plains, generally but erroneously 
called the Arabian desert, was once covered with sea 
water ; after the subsidence of the water the low dried- 
up surfaces were for centuries saturated with saline 
particles. This is the case with the Lakes El-Malak, 
Geboul, and others less known. The accumulation of 
water in winter dissolves some of the salt in the soil, 
and again evaporates. This, at least, appears to me 
the simplest and most natural way of accounting for 
this mode of obtaining salt. 

We returned to our hostess late in the evening in 
order early the next morning to make an excursion in 
a south-easterly direction to the basaltic mountains 
about ten miles off. A fine, fruitfiil plain extends iii 
this direction, but not far from Sfri cultivation ceases, 
and numerous ruins of villages afford evidence that 
the country was in much better condition not very long 
ago. Vegetation had just begun to appear ; number- 
less bulbs, of whose existence a few weeks before one 
would not have had the least idea, were peeping forth, 
but not a single specimen belonging to the class 
Phanerogamia was yet in bloom. 

A complete system of basaltic rocks has been 
formed here, no doubt by one of those volcanic erup- 
tions which have so often taken place in Syria from 
the earliest historical period to the present day. Like 
all basaltic formations it is based upon limestone, and 
forms narrow perpendicular valleys with clefts in all 
directions. Blocks of stone of all sizes lay scattered 

1 70 Syria and British Burmah. 

about in every direction. The entire absence of water 
produced sucli a wilderness as I have never seen. Not 
a shrub, not a blade of grass was to be seen, and even 
the black rock was but rarely covered with Leconora 
or Parietaria. 

On the summit of the chain there is a broad table- 
land, in some places six or seven miles in extent ; the 
only inhabitants of this desolate region are yellow 
hyenas, one of which we shot, and numerous wild 
boars. The existence of these animals, which generally 
prefer woods and morasses, may at first sight appear 
singular, but they find suitable food in the bulbous 
plants which are nowhere so abundant as here. The 
soil in many places is literally ploughed up by these 
creatures in search of food, though we saw but few of 
them. A rather heavy spring rain set in, very bene- 
ficial to nature, but very unpleasant to us ; we might 
have suffered from it, as we were unprovided against 
it, had not our hunter taken us to a cave which hos- 
pitably received us all. I was extremely surprised to 
find in this cave, about thirty feet below the surface, a 
roomy, neatly arranged habitation. On one side was 
a raised place for sitting, on the other a fireplace, with 
an opening for the smoke ; on the third, a part par- 
titioned off for sleeping-rooms, and another large room, 
apparently intended for animals. There was comfort- 
able room for us all, and a separate sleeping-place 
could be arranged for me and my wife. Our horses 
could also be taken in ; the only difiiculty being to 
lead them down the steep descent into it, but it was 

Excursion to the Salt Lake El-Malak. 171 

accomplislied, for the beasts of burden here are used to 
difficult passages. 

While the fire was crackling, and a kettle of rice 
being boiled, our hunter told us many anecdotes of his 
sporting adventures, which Herr Klinger, who perfectly 
understood Arabic, interpreted. Among the many 
curiosities of the neighbourhood, he mentioned a large 
town in ruins, which, though not far off, had never yet 
been visited by Franks, and which he himself had never 
ventured to go to for fear of the Aniza Arabs who pitch 
their tents there, until the previous summer, when he 
and another of his tribe had been there to search for 
wild potatoes [Lycoperdon ?), and had seen nothing of 
the Anizas. This account greatly interested me, and 
we resolved to visit the place. It was very difficult to 
persuade the man to guide us, but no Arab can with- 
stand the promise of a good backsheesh, and he con- 
sented. Before starting next day, I examined the 
neighbourhood more particularly, and found, to my 
great surprise, that many such caves like that in which 
we had passed the night existed, forming a troglodyte 
village of over fifty habitations, exactly alike, lying 
close together, and sufficient to accommodate over one 
thousand persons. We explored many of them thorough- 
ly, but could find nothing which afforded any clue to 
the period of their origin ; they probably date from the 
earliest times, and served the people who ruled and 
displaced each other in turn here for dwellings for 

Our way led over the high table-land formed by 
the basaltic hills. It was interesting to observe in this 

172 Syria and British Btcrmah. 

desolate region traces of a former high state of civihsa- 
tion. We could plainly distinguish terraces cut in the 
hills ; spaces scarcely twenty feet wide had been cleared 
of stones, and long walls, with towers, pillars, and 
pyramids had been constructed with them; the further 
we went the greater was the number of these monu- 
ments. It was evident that this chain must once have 
been a considerable border fortress. 

Having traversed the plateau for about two hours, 
we again descended into the plain, which was sur- 
rounded by part of the mountain range, in the form of 
a horse-shoe. On its open side the guide pointed out a 
little hill, under which the town lay ; according to him 
it was of greater extent than Aleppo, and all that I saw 
as we approached convinced me of the former import- 
ance of the place. 

From the basaltic hills I had observed scattered 
traces of an ancient mihtary road, which in the plain 
was quite distinct and in good preservation, extending 
for about two miles from the hills to the town. The bed 
of a deep canal, now dry, ran alongside of it. Where 
the water could formerly have come from it is difficult 
to say ; but these dry canals are frequent in Syria. 

On approaching the place I saw something like 
ruins, and soon found myself in the midst of a formerly 
large town, called by our Arab Belet-Chan-Asra, which 
he said had never been visited by Europeans. It was 
completely in ruins. Probably demohshed in .very 
early times, it has been left untouched, and has not 
served for the site of Eoman temples or mosques, like 
Hierapolis, out of which the Mahometans have built 

Excursion to the Salt Lake El-Malak. 173 

Membidge, and whicli exhibits traces of every age. 
That is not the case here, the plan of the whole town, 
even of every house, may be recognised. The buildings 
are ciuriously constructed of wedge-shaped basaltic 
stones, with the broad side outwards, the inside being 
filled with small stones. 

The city was surrounded by a wall, but there were 
many buildings and temples beyond it. The traces of 
square towers, fifty feet apart, and with sharp projecting 
corners, are distinctly visible. I observed only two 
entrance gates, connected by a straight street more than 
two miles long. Part of one of the gates is still stand- 
ing ; it is formed of enormous blocks, and the angles 
can still be discerned. The opposite gate has fallen in ; 
on one side I found the following Greek inscription : — 


. . . TOA€TOTI : : OCANHr€IP€N 

and on the other side — 

TON€YC€B€C . . 


Two buildings only are preserved, but their form is so 
singular that I cannot explain what may have been 
their purpose. One is a large vaulted hall, with an 
arched entrance and windows opposite ; there are no 
traces of any other apartments. The other appears to 
have been divided into many small rooms, and may 
perhaps have been a bath. An inscription which I 
copied may afford an explanation ; it is on a square 

1 74 Syria and British Burmah. 

tablet in the wall, but is unfortunately only partially 

legible : — 


KAIAnilYl E 



Near tlie wall with this inscription is a well-preserved 

Both these buildings he at the south end of the 
city, near the gate. !N^ot far from them is a long colon- 
nade, some hundred feet long, but so filled up with 
sand that I could not advance many steps along it. At 
the extreme southern extremity, within the walls, there 
is one of those hills peculiar to Syria, probably at one 
time surmounted by a castle or temple. The ramparts 
were particularly strong, and occupied a considerable 
space ; the front towards the town partially remains ; 
in this there is a huge square gate surmounted by a 
strong block of basalt ; it bears an inscription, of which 
I was able to copy the following fragments : — 








On wandering further among the extensive ruins I 
discovered the following inscriptions. On a bas-relief 
which may have belonged to a temple : — 


Exctirsion to the Salt Lake El-Malak. 175 

Over the door of a private house : — 

.... OIK€HAinCAM/ \HKA 
IROHeOCKö<|)0^ ^hb 

I refrain from all conjecture as to the age of this 
doubtless once important city, but v^ill observe that in 
two places I found the Maltese cross, which plainly 
indicates a temporary settlement of Christians. Among 
sundry ruins which we saw on our return by another 
route, were those of a large villa in the midst of a 
melancholy f^olitude, but surrounded by picturesque 
hills, from which there was a splendid view over the 
immense plain. Besides these, I discovered the founda- 
tions of two large buildings, which might have been 

On asking whether there were not other ruins in 
the neighbourhood, I learnt that about half a day's 
journey off, in the direction of Palmyra, which it was 
said would be reached in twenty- four hours from 
Belet-Chan-Asra, other and still more extensive ruins 
existed. Tempting as a visit to them was, we had to 
give it up. Our provisions were exhausted and our 
little company was not in a plight to go farther alone ; 
moreover our guide decidedly declined to accompany 
us. He left us here, as we decided to return by a 
shorter route than through Sfri, where he lived. 

We passed the night here and spent a good part of 
the next morning in exploring this interesting spot, but 
hoped to reach Aleppo before dark by going direct 
towards it. Knowing in which direction it lay I could 
rely upon my compass. We set out in good spirits and 

176 Syria and British Burtnah. 

urged on our steeds as much as we could. But they 
were poor over- worked beasts, and during the last two 
or three days had had but scanty feed, and continually 
relapsed into a slower and slower pace. Spurs and 
whips were of no avail, and we made but little progress. 
Evening came on, but not a trace of the extensive 
suburbs of Aleppo was visible ; we then perceived 
alongside of us, a long dark line, moving in the same 
direction as ourselves. We halted to watch the sur- 
prising apparition more closely, and, if possible, to get 
some good out of it, as we had given up all hope of 
reaching Aleppo. 

On approaching, we recognised a tribe of wandering 
Arabs, who, with wives, children, household effects, and 
cattle, had left their encampment to find fresh pasture. 
It was a most curious and picturesque sight. The van- 
guard was formed by a troop of mounted and well-armed 
men ; they were followed by a number of camels 
meditatively stalking onwards, with their heads ele- 
vated, and their eyes having a patient and gentle ex- 
pression, as if they were conscious that they bore their 
masters' greatest treasures, for high upon their backs 
women were enthroned with sucklings in their arms and 
naked children by their sides. Then came a confused 
mass of heavily-laden asses, men, women, and children, 
each loaded with some of his or her property. Last 
came flocks of sheep, oxen, young camels and horses ; 
the number and quality of the flocks, are, as is well 
known, the criterion of the wealth of the tribe. Armed 
men on foot and horseback closed the procession. 

On our, to them, doubtless, strange appearance, the 

Excursion to the Salt Lake El-Malak. ijj 

foremost stopped, and two of them rode up to us to ask 
' Who ? ' and ' Whither ? ' Herr Khnger gave a satisfac- 
tory account, and did not fail to introduce me as an 
officer of the mighty Enghsh on the Euphrates, who 
was traveUing through the country under Ibrahim 
Pacha's protection, and wished to return this evening to 
Aleppo. They then introduced themselves as belonging 
to the tribe of Gekim Arabs, whose great sheikh was 
called Omar. After they had returned to their people 
and made their report, the sheikh himself came to us with 
a larger retinue. The usual ceremonious greetings and 
assurances of friendship having been exchanged, he said 
that it would be impossible for us to reach Aleppo that 
day, and hospitably invited us to pass the night in his 
tent, which he would have pitched near. We thankfully 
accepted the invitation without hesitation, as otherwise 
we should have had to camp out in the open air. They 
had selected for their new dwelling-place a spot not 
far from where Ave were, behind a low range of hills ; 
it offered protection and pasture for their numerous 

It was very interesting to observe the dexterity and 
skill with which these people unpacked, pitched their 
tents, and furnished them at once with every conve- 
nience, while the women busied themselves with the 
preparation of the evening meal. The sheikh, a tall, 
handsome man of dark complexion, in the prime of life, 
asked us to be seated near him ; coffee and pipes were 
handed to us ; when my wife dechned the pipe, the 
sheikh looked at her as if surprised at this want of good 
manners ; he gazed at her with increasing scrutiny 

VOL. I. ]sr 

1 78 Syina and British Burmah. 

which resolved itself into admiration and astonishment. 
At last he exclaimed, 'A woman ! ' on which I said, with 
emphasis, ' My wife ! ' However, he paid no heed to 
this, but lost in gazing at her, said, ' What a pity her 
lips are not blue! but that could be remedied.' The 
Arab women, as is well known, colour their underlips 
with an indelible, caustic blue dye, by which they are 
swollen and frightfully disfigured. 

He now began to negotiate ; he asked me what 
sum I demanded for my wife, and commissioned Herr 
Klinger to tell her that she should be his chief wife, 
should have a tent to herself, and have his other wives 
for her attendants. I took the matter as a joke, laughed 
at it, and told him it was not our custom to sell wives. 
But he seemed unable to comprehend this, and became 
more and more importunate, told us how rich he was, 
and it was evident that his passion was increasing. I 
began to feel alarmed, and gave Herr Franz a hint to 
go and get the horses ready. The sheikh then brought 
out a bag of gold and offered it to me for my wife ; I 
pretended to be half won over, but signified to him, 
through Herr Klinger, that a transaction so strictly 
forbidden as the sale of a wife demanded serious con- 
sideration ; in order that I might discuss with her and 
my companions how it was to be done without incur- 
ring the penalties of the law, he must allow us time to 
talk it over undisturbed. Suspecting nothing, he nodded 
assent ; he was certain that I could no more withstand 
a bag of gold than an Arab. We left the tent and 
the encampment, found Herr Franz with the horses^ 
mounted them mthout delay, and rode off, at first at a 

Excursion to the Salt Lake El-Malak, 1 79 

walking pace to avoid any noise, and then at full 
gallop. I was seized with an indescribable terror ; I 
fancied that all the wild horde were pursuing us, until 
after two hours' flight, ourselves and our beasts ready 
to die of exhaustion, we reached the first gardens 
outside Aleppo, and felt ourselves safe, for the Arabs 
do not now venture to the gates of the city with intent 
to plunder. Did they really pursue us, or was it only 
the effect of my heated imagination? I cannot say. 
The probability is that a violent abduction before the 
gates of Aleppo, where Ibrahim Pacha's court was very 
severe against all evil-doers, appeared to the sheikh too 
perilous, and that this consideration sufficed to cool his 
passion. For if he had thought fit to pursue us with 
his swift steeds, the little advantage we had gained in 
starting could not have saved us from his hands. We 
thanked God for this escape, and after an unrefreshing 
night in a gardener's hut, reached Aleppo early next 

Meanwhile, news had arrived that the steamers 
were nearly completed, and that the Euphrates would 
soon start from Birejik ; this determined us to set off 

At the same time, to my great delight, we received 
intelligence from Colonel Taylor, the Enghsh resident 
at Baghdad, that Messrs. Hunter and Brown, our 
Affghans, were on their way thither. 

Thank God, they are ahve ! I have not the slight 
est doubt of their trustworthiness. 

N 2 

1 80 Syria and British BzLrmah. 



{From Dr. Heifer's Diary.) 

March 14:, 1836. — When we readied the Euphrates, 
after a pleasant journey of two days, we found every- 
thing at Port Wilham in busy confusion. The great 
steamer Euphrates was ready, except her bulwarks, on 
wdiich they were diligently at work, while a rail served 
for a provisional substitute. Por the rest, in putting, 
the separate parts of the vessel together, much atten- 
tion had not been paid to elegance ; everything was 
still of its natural colour. The second smaller boat, 
the Tigris^ had not been taken in hand at all below 
deck ; her machinery was but half finished ; never- 
theless, hundreds of things were stowed away in her ; 
she was merely to float down the river with the stream 
without steam power. A flat boat, roughly built by 
native workmen, was to be attached to the large 
steamer, laden Avith coal, iron work, &c. ; it was a 
wretched transport, leaky to begin with. Two boats 
for the diving bells were to be built under the super- 
vision of Mr. Hector, and sent on afterwards. Turks 
and Christians were seen everywhere, laden with the 
most various things, and all in such haste, as if the 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 1 8 1 

magazines had been on fire. Anvils, bellows, iron 
rods, screws, guns, mortars, gun carriages, wheels, 
cylinders, sacks of cotton wool, trunks and chests, 
astronomical instruments and tent poles, and an im- 
mense quantity of planks lay scattered about, and it 
looked as if the Aniza Arabs were in the midst of one 
of the plundering exploits they conduct in so masterly 
a style. To us, however, it was a pleasant sight, for it» 
held out a prospect of an early start from this dismal 
spot, where we have been the greater part of five 

My wife lent a helping hand in arranging the ship's 
Hbrary in the space allotted to it. Looking through 
these select works — the Euglish classics especially, with 
which she is as yet unacquainted — afibrds her much 
pleasure. The Enghsh have made admirable provision, 
not only of technical literature, but of reading of every 
sort. No well known author in their rich national 
literatiure is wanting. To Pauhne, as she says, it opens 
up a new world ; she has at once asked for a selection 
of books, among wdiich are Addison, Johnson, Shak- 
speare. Gibbon, and a few humourists, which she has 
placed upon the drawing room table, that they may be 
always at hand. She revels in the idea of gliding safely 
and comfortably down the glorious river, well provided 
with food for the mind, and passing the noble monu- 
ments of bygone ages on its classic shores. This alone 
is sufficient to make up to her for all the hardships she 
has undergone. I am rejoiced to see her so happy. 
May it always remain so. 

March 15. — I have to-day, it is to be hoped for- 

I Si Syria and British Burmah. 

the last time, visited that gloomy place Birejik. It is 
built like an ampkitlieatre. Tke difficulties put in the 
way of the Expedition by Sultan Mahmoud, his petty 
tool, Eeschid Pacha, and the present Mutsellim of 
Birejik, the desolate, unpicturesque forms and white 
hue of the Mesopotamian hills, the extreme monotony 
of the country hereabouts, of which I knew every inch, 
made me dislike this place extremely. 

Lieutenant Murphy went to ^n points for the 
survey of the river ; I went with him to botanise. 

It is curious that vegetation is full a week more 
forward on the Mesopotamian than on the Syrian side. 

The curious voyage to-day on board the native 
boat was really dangerous. The clumsy craft was so 
crammed full of asses, goats, sheep and people, that, 
as like a Eoman triumphal car it is open behind, the 
water came in. The Turks began to pray their Aia- 
alla-hillulla. The stream carried us far beyond the 
town ; this was all right for us, but inconvenient for 
the poor people with their beasts, who had to go back 
half a mile. 

March 16. — To-day all was commotion in the 
camp, for, after nearly a year's labour, the steamer was 
to float on the Euphrates for the first time ; a novel 
sight for the world around. 

After breakfast the crew were summoned on deck 
by the ships bell for divine service. When it was 
over, the firman of King WilHam lY. of England was 
read, by virtue of which, in order to establish commu- 
nication between the Asiatic possessions of Great Britain 
and the mother country, his Majesty had concluded a 

Wäk the English Euphrates Expedition, 1 8 


treaty with his dear and powerful ally, the Sublime 
Porte, permitting him to build steamers &c. within the 
Asiatic states of the last named empire. This, and a 
long hst of engagements and customary expectations 
were read, and finally a set of rules for the conduct 
of members of the Expedition. 

1 . All to rise and breakfast at daybreak, and each 
man then to go to his allotted task, which, chiefly of a 
scientific nature, consists in surveying the bed of the 
river to Basrah. 

2. Dinner at 5.30, and tea to follow soon after, in 
order to afford time for noting down the events of the 
day, and that all may retire early. 

3. No one to go ashore except well armed (pious 
wish !), but use is only to be made of weapons in the 
greatest extremity. 

4. After 9.30 lights to be extinguished in all pri- 
vate cabins. 

5. Smoking not allowed (to my regret) below deck. 
The Mutsellim and chief magistrate of Birejik were 

invited to the solemn commencement of the voyage. 
They came, with their numerous suites, a great deal too 
early, and were in the way, as we were still very busy 
packing. I undertook to entertain them by showing 
them the splendid edition of ' Parry's North Pole Expe- 
dition,' the plates in which really interested them. 
When they saw the Eskimos, they laughed, and said 
they were Arabs in winter costume. More distant 
friends also, even from Aintab and Aleppo, had 
arrived ; the shore w^as thronged with people, who had 
collected together when they saw the smoke issuing 

1 84 Syria and British Btirmah. 

from tlie chimney and heard the noise. At length, 
about noon, the preparations were complete. The 
members of the Expedition were seized with enthu- 
siasm as the bridge w^as withdrawn and the cables 
w^ere loosed ; even the rigid muscles of the Colonel's 
face betrayed his emotion by a shght quiver when the 
inevitable ' Hip, hip, hiu:rah ! ' of the sailors was heard, 
and the steamer was for the first time in motion. The 
last difficulty, however, was not yet overcome. 

It was decided to go up stream past Birejik. But 
the main stream forms a sort of cataract over rocky 
ground near the village of Kafrin, about a gunshot 
ft-om Port William. It was thought that this could be 
avoided by steering through a second smaller branch, 
which, where it falls into the main stream, is about 
1,000 feet wide. The current at the outflow was very 
strong ; we could not stand against it, and, to avoid 
being carried away, we cast anchor. But neither 
anchor nor engine sufficed ; the cable broke, and we ran 
upon a sandbank. ' Mash Allah ! ' exclaimed the Turks 
on board, ' what will become of us ? ' 

With great difficulty we got off and tried to over- 
come the force of the current ; but, despite all our forces, 
scarcely any progress was visible up stream. I was 
then informed that the chief cabin was full of water, 
and that my plants under the table were soaked. The 
paddles turned up the water with so much force that 
it rushed in through the cabin windows. 

While I was putting the plants with all haste into 
fresh blotting paper, I heard the vessel grating on the 
pebbles in the bed of the river. I felt that she stood 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 185 

still for a moment, and then, swift as an arrow, turned 
round. Before I got up we were in the main stream. 
A disaster had just occurred ; the man at the helm 
had been thrown with great violence against the bul- 
warks, and had his thumb crushed. 

The steamer could not withstand the current with 
all the power of her engines, and we were obliged to 
cast anchor about twenty minutes below Port William. 

This was a melancholy end to our sanguine expec- 
tations. But the Turks were glad to have escaped 
with nothing but a fright, for they had never felt safe 
for a moment in the iron monster, as they called it, 
and inwardly triumphed over the failure of the enter- 
prise. For the Colonel and all the rest it was a severe 
blow ; I could estimate the depth of their discourage- 
ment by my own. We landed in silence and walked 
back to Port William, telling those who had remained 
there that the boat could not withstand the current. 
Towards evening we returned much out of spirits to 
the steamer to retire to rest. 

March 17. — But all who were acquainted with the 
perseverance of our chief knew very well that he would 
not rest satisfied with the first unsuccessful attempt to 
go up stream. In fact, he at once gave orders to lighten 
the boat, by the removal of everything not absolutely 
necessary ; to take off the covering of the paddle 
wheels, because the water spurting back fi:'om it struck 
the wheels and obstructed their force, and to make 
other alterations in the machinery. 

The steam was got up early, the boat turned up 
stream, and her movements watched with anxious sus- 

1 86 Syria and British Biirmah. 

pense. She moved, the paddles laboured powerfully 
against the current, the white foam was thrown up, she 
glided firmly onwards in the right course, answering 
well to the helm, and in ä few minutes arrived at Port 
William amidst the shouts of the assembled multitude. 
But the commander was not satisfied with this success ; 
yesterday's fiasco must be fully atoned for ; faith in 
the invincibleness of the steamer must be restored. 
Soundings were once more taken above Port William, 
the boat again set in motion, and in a few minutes she 
was at the dangerous spot. 

The water rushed in mighty waves over the hidden 
rocks ; but close to the right bank there was a clear 
passage, for which they steered with all their might ; 
the boat, only yielding for one moment, glided majes- 
tically over the whirling waters. Loud acclamations 
from the multitude, and the ' passed over ' of the 
English announced the victory. The fine vessel now 
proceeded onwards to salute the town. The banner, with 
the crescent, moon and stars on red ground, was unfurled 
beside the British flag, and a salute of tw^enty-four 
guns was fired in honour of the Grand Seignior, which 
resounded through the rocky shores of Mesopotamia, 
and no doubt gave the Turks a great idea of the defen- 
sive powers of our ship. The w^hole shore, the roofs of 
the houses of the amphitheatre- shaped town, even the 
minarets, were crow^ded with people ; a special place 
had even been reserved for the women, that they too 
might witness what seemed so incredible, that iron 
could float and even go up stream. But now that they 
saw the work accomplished with their own' eyes, they 

Wi^k the English Etiphrates Expedition. 187 

were seized with terror ; they thought it must be the 
result of supernatural powers, and the black clouds 
which issued from the funnel confirmed them in the 
notion that the English must be in league with the 
devil. And when one child fell on another from a 
minaret, and neither was hurt, they attributed it to 
some devilish spell. Nevertheless, the mother came 
veiled in thick cloths to ask for a backsheesh, because 
the English had occasioned her child to fall from a 
minaret. The love of backsheesh then, was greater 
than fear of the devil. The cnly gun, left in the castle, 
which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1822, was 
fired off in answer to our salute. It was badly exe- 
cuted by a company of irregular soldiers, and if it 
induced the governor, who was leaning out of a paviHon 
in the castle, and nodded his approval, to make compa- 
risons, he must have been compelled to place less con- 
fidence in the security in which he had been lulling 
himself. Many of the Turks had said, ' Well, we have 
them ' (the English) ' here ; we shall have to see how 
to get rid of them.' 

The steamer altered her course above the castle, 
and in seven minutes was alongside of the sister boat, 
the Tigris. This successful manoeuvre gave us all con- 

March 18. — Several articles having been taken 
on board, including Lieutenant Murphy's astronomic- 
magnetic and pendulum instruments, which required 
the greatest care, the voyage began again. With a 
renewed ' Hip, hip, hurrah 1 ' we took our last leave of 
Port William, and in a few minutes were at our yes- 

1 88 Syria and British Burmah. 

terday's moorings. After the first unsuccessful experi- 
ment, a number of tilings had been landed here, and 
had now to be taken in again, which prevented our 
continuing our voyage to-day. 

A pretty little encampment of tents was pitched on 
the shore, for which Mr. William Estcourt, brother of 
our Captain Estcourt, furnished the requisites, which 
he carried with him on his tour through Egypt and 
Syria ; he was come to pay his brother a visit, and to 
accompany him to Beles. 

As usual, the. inhabitants of the shores of the river, 
men, women, and children, assembled in great numbers, 
and sat immovably for hours staring at the ' monster.' 

I made another excursion to the chalk cliff called 
' The Cave,' because it contains a not inconsiderable 
cavern. The pleasant spring air and the bright hues 
of the virgin green were a foretaste of the pleasures 
awaiting us a week later a degree further south. 

Of the Expedition corps the following gentlemen 
were allotted to the Euphrates: — The Colonel as com- 
mander, Captain Estcourt, Lieutenant Cleaveland, Mr. 
Charlewood, and Mr. Fitzjames, Lieutenant Murphy, 
Mr. W. Ainsworth, Mr. Eassam and Seyd Ali as inter- 
preters, Mr. Thomas Hurst, engineer, twenty-five EngHsh 
sailors in their various capacities, three native sailors, 
and my wife and I as passengers. 

For the Tigris^ not yet finished, the following were 
left behind in Port WilUam : — Lieutenant H. B. Lvnch 
as second commander, Mr. Eden, Lieutenant B. Cock- 
burn, the two brothers Staunton, Mr. Thomson, Messrs. 
Elliot and Sader as interpreters, Mr. Clegg, engineer, 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 189 

eighteen English sailors, the baggage, and four natives. 
Lieutenant E. B. Lync^h, of the Indian army, accom- 
panied his brother as passenger, to return by this 
route to India. 

March 19. — We remained here to-day also. I 
made an excursion to the southern, that is, extreme 
point of the range of chalk hills, where the river 
makes a bend to the westward ; on the other side of 
this a plain extends, through which the Kersin flows 
before it joins the Euphrates. Beyond this point you 
can no longer see Birejik — a time I have been long 
looking forward to. 

I went up hill and down botanising and entomolo- 
gising, while Lieutenant Cleaveland and Mr. Charle- 
wood went down stream in two boats to take sound- 
ings. Even these boats were a wonderful sight to the 
natives. I afterwards met several dirty Arab women, 
also going down stream to collect rubbish washed up 
by the river for fuel. They called out to me, laughing 
at the distant boats, and exclaiming, ' Fock ! Fock ! ' 
(far ! far !) meaning that I should not be able to over- 
take them. 

On the extreme point there was a flag belonging to 
Murphy's trigonometrical survey. It was untouched. 
The people really behave very well ; they have not as 
yet stolen even any of the wooden pegs, and, con- 
sidering the scarcity of wood, it is much to their 
credit ; they have a great respect for everything that 
belongs to the Enghsh. The fear of offending those 
who may some day be their masters may have some- 
thing to do with it. 

I go Syria and British Burin ah. 

Tile heat to-day was as great as with us in June, 
if not greater. The shortness of spring here is very 
remarkable ; in some places the tender grass is already 
getting burnt up. 

On my return I met a man armed with a musket. 
I took no notice of him ; but as I went on he made 
signs of hostility, such as threats with the stock, and he 
pointed to the south, meaning, ' If you go down you 
will be killed.' He could easily have attacked me, as 
I was unarmed. The security which we have enjoyed 
in the whole country has made me careless. This is 
the only hostile demonstration I have met with in the 
six months. 

March 20. — After a few more preparations in the 
mornino^ we followed our course southwards. I cannot 
tell how glad my wife and I were as we stood on deck, 
to see the steamer ^^ush off and glide swiftly down the 
river. Our speed was so great that some gentlemen 
who wished to accompany us by land could not keep 
up with us at full gallop. 

For one quarter of an hour we went on in pleasur- 
able excitement, when, with a noise like thunder, we 
struck upon a sandbank, and came completely to a 
standstill. Every effort to move backwards or for- 
wards,, with the whole power of the engine, was in 
vain. The steamer would not move. We were stuck 

It is now evening, and to my great chagrin I must 
write that we are still immovable on the sandbank. 
All efforts to float the steamer have been fruitless. 
With the help of the coal transport, which had mean- 

With the Eiiglish Euphrates Expedition. 1 9 1 

while arrived, an anclior was cast ashore, the water 
emptied out of the boiler, and the vessel thus raised 
about four inches. In vain; she was and is immov- 
able. The pebbles rattle incessantly against her iron 
walls with a peculiar and, to my ears, by no means 
agreeable music. Shall we have to wait till the water 
rises ? To-day it is falling. Although after the heat 
of yesterday the temperature is fallen to 35° Fahren- 
heit, and there is a heavy downpour of rain, the water 
will scarcely rise, for in the Taurus and the Armenian 
mountains the snow still lies hard and firm. 

Lieutenant Murphy and I were put ashore, and as 
there was nothing for me to do in my naturalist's 
department, I helped him in taking triangles. The 
Arabs came as usual, and watched our manipulations 
with eager but unobtrusive interest. Nothing asto- 
nishes them so much as a telescope directed to some 
object they know, or a magnetic needle which follows 
the movements of an iron instrument. We almost 
daily hear the exclamation, ' Frengi Kibir ! ' (the Franks 
are great). 

If we meet with the same sentiments everywhere, 
more friendly people cannot be imagined. Among the 
lower classes I have not met with any religious intoler- 
ance ; at most, only pride of the privilege of beino- 
followers of the great prophet, and pity for unbelievers. 

March 22. — After two days the rain had at length 
melted the snow on the mountains, and so swollen the 
river that the steamer began to rise. Yesterday even- 
ing the usually clear water became thick and yellow, 
and some shght movements indicated that she was 

192 Syria and British Bui^man, 

rising. But it was too late to get up the steam, and so 
we had to pass the night in the same place between 
hope and fear. 

At five o'clock the steam began to blow off. A 
few provisions having been taken on board, the moor- 
ings were loosed, and the engine began to work, at 
first only at half power. The sounding chart in hand, 
Lieutenant Cleaveland could now guide the steamer 
with tolerable certainty. Our voyage to-day was a 
successful one ; the boat did indeed glide over a sand- 
bank, but we did not stick, and made seventeen knots 
in an hour and a half. 

The country here is picturesque, and with more 
cultivation and wood might be called charming. The 
forms of the mountains are rather pleasing than grand. 
On the banks we saw many ruins of buildings, but so 
crumbled away by the decay of centuries that their 
original form is no longer distinguishable. 

The country reminds me of the Ehine ; Colonel 
Chesney may be right in comparing the upper part of 
the Euphrates with the Ehine, the middle with the 
Danube, the lower part with the Nile. 

We landed at the Turcoman tent village of Gourlou, 
where Captain Estcourt, who had preceded us for the 
survey of the river," was waiting for us. Here, too, the 
people were obliging and unobtrusive ; the men came 
on board without fear, to examine the novel monster. 
' Only God,' they said, ' can possess such wisdom.' 
The sheikh brought a lamb as a token of friendship. 

The river here forces its way through a narrow 
rocky channel, and falling over almost perpendicular 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 193 

rocks, forms the Gourloii whirlpool. We had looked 
forward with anxiety to this dangerous point ; but 
owing to a previous examination by Mr. Charlewood, 
and the directions of Captain Estcoiurt, who stood on 
shore, we happily passed over it, amidst the acclamations 
of the multitude. There is a legend that Mahomet 
drove forty swine into the river here, and as a reward 
God granted to the faithful a safe passage over the 
rapids; but that unbelievers should pass them safely 
was considered an extraordinary miracle. 

The rain had brought with it a chilly damp 
atmosphere, like gales and rain with us in March. 
Nevertheless, I went ashore as soon as I could and 
took my way alone southwards, as it was said that 
about five miles distant there were ruins of a large 
town. For the first time I was armed with a dagger 
and pistols, but with the perpetual stooping which the 
pursuits of a naturahst require, they were a great 
burden to me. It was, however, dictated by prudence 
on a distant excursion alone. 

The natives came near me without fear. When 
they saw me digging up plants {Leontodon tuberosum)^ 
and I told them in answer to their questions that it 
was for medicine, they laughed, dug some up them- 
selves and ate them, and said, ' That is not medicine, it 
produces neither vomiting nor purging.' They examined 
my weapons with curiosity, and asked me v/hether it 
was true that the pistols would kill five persons at once 
without firelock, and when I told them that they 
would kill many more, they timidly withdrew. 

The two Estcourts afterwards overtook me, also the 
VOL. I. 

194 Syria and British Burniah, 

gentlemen from the sounding boat, Messrs. Eden, 
Charlewood, and Fitzjames, and at length the Colonel 
himself with Mr. Ainsworth the geologist, so that the 
greater number of the officers assembled at the ruins of 

The ruins were quite worth the long walk. They 
are, doubtless, the remains of a strongly fortified castle 
of moderate extent. 

A hill about 150 feet high extends some way along 
the river ; on the plain on the other side of it we 
observed remains of earthworks and ramparts. The 
hill is artificially divided into two parts ; fragments of 
massive walls lay about, which, still furrowed in some 
parts, probably bore bas-reliefs. 

The sounding boat proceeded further. Captain 
Estcourt followed it on horseback. The rest of us 
returned to the steamer, which we reached at nightfall. 

We could not find any information about the ruins 
of Jerabolis in the ship's ample library, for the notices 
about the upper course of the Euphrates in the sources 
of ancient history are more scanty than of the middle. 

March 23. — To-day was such an uninteresting and 
unpleasant one that I hope we shall not have many like 
it on our voyage. A strong east wind made it piercingly 
cold ; torrents of driving rain and storms hindered our 
progress. The sounding expedition did not return till 
late, quite wet through and half frozen, having gone as 
far as the mouth of the Sajur. They found a good depth 
of water the whole way, so that we can go on to-morrow. 

March 24. — If we go on at this rate it will be at 
least srx weeks before we reach Babylon. It was 

Wi(/i the English Euphrates Expedition. 195 

planned to start early, but a coaling transport, which 
was to have been brought by horses yesterday, did not 
arrive, and so we had to wait for it this morning. The 
liat boat, the impedimentuin ex malitia of the Colonel, 
which was in advance of us, was to precede us under 
command of Fitzjames ; but when the cable by which 
she was fastened was loosed it appeared that the water 
had fallen, and the clumsy, heavily-laden boat stuck fast. 
During this delay I made another little exploring 
excursion, for the weather w^as warmer and brighter : 
the snow-capped Taurus chain was plainly visible at a 
distance of about 45 miles. Our interpreter, a Chaldean 
from Mosul, named Antoni Eassam, went with me. He 
had been employed in translating Arabic MSS. at the 
College at Malta, ^ and had spent several years there in 
almost monastic seclusion, until he was attached to the 
Euphrates Expedition as interpreter. His appearance 
w^as very remarkable ; his striking height, his dark 
complexion, and the child-like, kindly expression of his 
face formed a singular whole. He was, in fact, a child 
in artlessness and amiable ignorance of the world. He 
expressed his satisfaction at being set free from the 
strict rule of the pious folk at Malta with all the sim- 
plicity of a child, but he never abused his liberty. He 
was an excellent chess player, there Avas no match 
for him on board. It may here be observed how 

1 Dr. Heifer saj^s tliat tie liacl "been ^a pupil of the Bible Society at 
Malta,' whicli is obviously a mistake. The above statement is tak^ü 
from the * Narrative of the Euphrates Expedition/ by Ool. Chesney 
Appendix XII. p. 555. — Tß. 


1 96 Syria and British Burmah. 

universal cliess is in the East, and what masters of it are 
found even among wild Arabs. 

The coaling transport arrived at two o'clock and we 
started ; but when we had overtaken the flat boat and 
tried to stop, our anchor would not hold against the 
current, and we were compelled to cast anchor on the 
Mesopotamian side. Again a great loss of time, for 
there could be no thought of going further to-day. 
We have so many little mishaps — if only greater ones 
do not follow ! 

Still my impatience is hardly justifiable. Consider- 
ing the numerous difiiculties of the navigation of this 
river, in utter ignorance of its course, the sudden rise 
and fall of the water, the numerous shallows, and the want 
of sufficient fuel, a rapid voyage is not to be expected. 

Equipped with my naturalist's implements, I in- 
tended to ascend a range of hills extending along the 
shore, but found myself unexpectedly on an island. 
Two artificial channels about fifteen feet wide and 
perhaps as deep, separated the alluvial land from the 
foot of the hills. When and by whom were these 
channels made? Their purpose was undoubtedly to 
drain the fruitful soil. They can scarcely be the work 
of a Mussulman government. 

Eor the first time I saw the natives armed with 
slings, which they use partly as a means of defence 
and partly for killing birds; large flocks of these had 
collected to devour the newly sown durra (maize). 

While I and my wife were Avalking along one of 
the canals, we observed that the whole population of a 
picturesque village of tents on the heights were hastening 

With the English Etiphrates Expedition, \ 97 

towards our steamer ; 011 arriving at the canal, they at 
once took off their clothes, put them on their heads, and 
waded through the water up to their breasts. They 
seemed peacefully inclined, regarded us with respectful 
curiosity, and promised to bring eggs and milk to- 
morrow. On board they readily lent a hand to drag 
the flat boat to land ; but none of them could be 
induced to go with us to fill up the gaps caused by 
some workmen having left us, their fear of the smoking 
monster is too great.- They also prophesy that the 
whple crew will be eaten up by savage Arabs lower down. 
' March 25. — Again to-day we had a difficult voyage. 
We started at eight, and all w^ent well till we were 
opposite the ruins of Jerabohs ; but there we went 
aground ; all efforts with the engine were in vain, 
and had to be discontinued. I was afraid the fate of 
last Saturday was to be repeated, but a strong current 
floated us, twice however to drive us on to shallows 
again, but happily only for a short time. 

Fruitful plains extend here on both sides ; the 
mountains recede from view ; only a few of the conical 
hills, so frequent in Syria, are to be seen, as if placed 
there on purpose as points for taking triangles. The 
country is certainly something like that of the Middle 
Nile. The river has not only made a broad bed for 
itself in the plain, but has cut a number of arms in the 
alluvial soil. This has made the navigable channel 
very shallow, and in consequence we stuck fast again 
in a narrow, apparently impassable channel, unable 
to move backwards or forwards. By a dexterous 
manoeuvre of Lieutenant Cleaveland's, however, we got 

1 98 Syj'ia and British BurmaJi. 

off, and happily reached our destination about half a 
mile above the mouth of the Sajur. 

Not only human beings were amazed at the strange 
apparition of our steamer, but horses left their pasture 
and came galloping up to get a nearer view of the 
novel monster, and even a jackal stood for a time quite 
bewildered, with ears pricked up, on the banks. In 
default of other means of crossing the stream the 
natives here use inflated sheep or pig skins, which 
they place under the body, carrying their scanty gar- 
ments in a bundle on their heads, and, pushing back 
the water with their feet, men, women, and children 
swim fearlessly over the rushing stream. 

No sooner were we along shore than I set out on 
an excursion. I crossed the chalk range which com- 
mands the river, to explore the ruins on the other side. 
Traces of ancient civilisation, man's handiworks, are 
everywhere met with. In many places the rocks are 
cut through ; on the highest point there was probably 
a fort, connected with the present ruins by a broad road 
running along the ridge of hills ; on the farther side of 
these, gallery-like excavations are visible and caves in 
the rocks. The ruins themselves he about two miles 
from the mouth of the Sajur, near the nomadic village 
of Seraset. 

The whole appears to have been a strongly fortified 
place, but except some foundations and weather-worn 
stones scattered about there is little to be found but a 
ruined entrance through the rock, and a round cistern, 
into which the clear and excellent water of a little 
brook flows. An Arab liimily, who were just sowing a 

Wük the English Euphi^ates Expedition. 199 

little patch of land with hemp, had taken up their 
abode in a cave under this cistern. Some of oik anti- 
quarians take these ruins for those of the ancient 
Europus ; they appear to me more likely to be those of 

Near the landing place at the mouth of the Sajur, I 
observed a hermit's grotto, partly fallen into decay, cut 
in the top of the chalk cliff, probably of modern date. 
A cross on the summit induced the conjecture that 
some Christian anchorite may have found shelter here, 
though on the other hand a rough Arabic inscription, 
which I could not decipher, pointed to a Mussulman. 

Lieutenant Cleaveland and Charlewood are gone on 
with the boat to take soundings. Major Estcourt and 
his brother have finished mapping the river; they 
were waiting for us here. 

Mar oil 26. — To-day Colonel Chesaey and all his 
officers made an excursion to the ancient Hierapohs, 
the present Membidge, about nine miles distant. I 
did not join the party, as I had explored the place five 
months before on my journey from Aleppo to Port 
William with Lieutenant Lynch. It ofiers nothing more 
than what is everywhere to be seen in Syria, fallen 
greatness, r.uin, and desolation where advanced culture 
and civilisation once existed. 

The gentlemen of the sounding boat have returned 
to-day with the report that they have found a wide 
paved road all along the shore from Sajur to Kala. 

T made two excursions from here ; one to the place 
where the Sajm*, divided into two branches, empties 
itself almost imperceptibly into the Euphrates, the other 

200 Syria and British Burmah, 

on the opposite side, among the chalk cliffs, which are 
curiously tossed about. Neither afforded me much 

March 28. — The smoke from the funnel announced 
that we were to proceed this morning. There is no 
certainty to be got from questions, nor answers, nor 
intentions, as circumstances may change at any mo- 
ment ; but if the steam is up we know that we really 
are going on. My wife and I took advantage of the 
interval to mount the neighbouring hills once more. 
We found, quite near, considerable ruins of a fort, to 
which a paved and cemented road led up ; there was 
probably another fort opposite to it, surrounded by an 
arm of the Euphrates. Grain is now grown in the dry bed. 

When we started the natives were standing anxiously 
waiting on the shore ; the clouds of black smoke fright- 
ened them, and when the steam escaped with a roaring 
noise, the women and children ran off and the men 
exclaimed, ' God save us from this danger ! ' 

Our voyage to-day in very shallow w^ater might 
have been dangerous ; but it was a very pleasant one, 
and in thirty- three minutes we made two or three 
miles, till we reached the Castle of Kalat-en-Nejm. 
We were aground four times, but thanks to the con- 
tinual sounding on both sides of the steamer, we did not 

For two or three miles more the river is wide, full 
of green islands and sand-banks as far as the mouth of 
the Sajur; it is then narrowed by a mountain ridge 
and has in places a depth of seven fathoms. The 
scenery is varied and beautiful. The glorious river. 

With the English Euph^^ates Expedition. 201 

now bounded by lofty cliffs, now widening to a broad 
expanse, the verdant islets, the blue mountains in the 
distance, form very pleasing pictures. Further on the 
country becomes wilder. On both sides of the river 
there are lofty mountain ranges of chalk formation, the 
strata lying arched and curved over each other. The 
regularity of the layers looks like the work of man, 
while their vastness bears witness to a greater than 
human power. 

A few wretched nomad tents, and long-eared black 
goats, grazing here and there, were the only traces of 
life we saw, and this in a country where at every step 
you meet with evidences of a former flourishing state 
of civilisation. 

March 29. — We landed below the Castle of Kalat- 
en-Nejm, which stands upon an isolated rock com- 
manding the river. Although the place is very remark- 
able, it was not marked on the map, and we could find 
but scanty notices of its history. The probability is that 
the Arabs in their time of prosperity raised the fine 
buildings on Greek orEoman foundations, and that for 
a long period it was in good condition, until about 
fifteen years ago, when an Arab tribe, having refused 
to pay tribute to the Turkish government, were pursued 
by the pacha's soldiers, took refuge in the fortress, 
were besieged and conquered, and a wide breach was 
made in one side of the ramparts. It is said that in the 
times of the Eomans there was a bridge over the river 
here and a tunnel under it to the Mesopotamian side. 

We all betook ourselves to this castle, each follow- 
ing his bent and giving himself up to his own reflec- 

202 Syria and British Burmah. 

tions. Lieutenant Murphy ascertained the length and 
breadth of the place by astronomical means ; Mr. 
Ains worth tried to determine the age of the buildings ; 
my wife and I collected plants and insects ; the Colonel 
and Mr. Charlewood, provided with hghts and ropes, 
and guided by an Arab, proceeded to explore the 
timnel. In this I joined them ; we descended 200 
stone steps interspersed with slopes, and by removing 
some loose stones opened a wide subterranean passage, 
but, on account of the dangerous state of the roof, 
further progress into it had to be given up. Probably 
these spaces served as dungeons or sally ports. 

These vaults are inhabited by vast numbers of large 
bats {Rhinolophus). They continually put the lights out, 
hovered round our heads, and flew in our faces, giving 
us smart boxes on the ear. Their excrement gives an 
idea of their numbers, for in some places it was five 
feet deep, dried to dust, and emitted such a hor- 
rible smell that it was impossible to stay long. What 
a treasure of insects lies here metamorphosed, and I 
cannot get at them ! 

The castle is one of the most magnificent erections 
of the sort that I have seen, and must have been built 
during the Saracenic dominion. All those portions 
spared by the storming above mentioned are still stand- 
ing, and in good preservation. The great halls, the flight 
of steps at the entrance, several corridors and small 
apartments, as well as a little chapel with a sort of 
chancel, quite in European style, are distinctly recog- 
nisable. Wild pigeons, red-legged partridges, bats, and 
lizards haunt the forsaken walls in large numbers. The 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 203 

whole neighbourhood is covered with ruins, among 
them many remains of mosques. It is a melancholy 
panorama, only enhvened by the majestic river. 

Our voyage seems now to be planned system- 
atically; we remain a day at each station, while the 
boats precede us to take soundings ; then we follow 
them for about eight hours. Lieutenant Cleaveland 
returned to-day from his exploration. For the first 
time he had met with resistance and thieving propensities 
among the natives. An Englishman who had remained 
on shore alone to take care of the horses, was attacked 
and robbed by six Arabs, who swam over from the 
other side. I am afraid this will happen to us lower 
down, if we ramble about alone as we have done. 

To-day we went over to the Mesopotamian side, to 
investigate whether the old Eoman road from Hierapohs 
to Carrhse (Harran) led across the river here. Opinions 
differ about it. Major Eennel maintains that it must 
have been at the mouth of the Sajur, which is very 
improbable, on account of the breadth of the river 
there. Here, on the contrary, the bed of the river is 
narrow, and the remains of a quay, built of large blocks 
of stone, about half a mile long and defended by little 
forts, facing those on the Syrian shore, plainly point to 
former communication between the two sides. That 
considerable buildings once stood here is indicated by 
extensive quarries, something like those of Syracuse. 
The most important thing for us, however, was the 
discovery of the Eoman road to Harran, in some parts 
in good preservation. 

Our station to-day was animated and interesting. 

204- Syria and British Burmah. 

Not only the natives on the Syrian, but those of the 
other shore came to gaze at us. They swam across 
without effort, and brought goat's milk and eggs on 
their heads. Among the rest, we observed eleven 
Bedouins, who came fully armed on horseback, tarried 
awhile on the bank, then entirely stripped, fastened 
their clothes, arms, and other baggage to sheepskins 
bound together, and had them pushed before them by 
two men swimming sideways. They drove their horses 
into the water, and held fast to their tails, encouraging 
them in very loud, falsetto voices. Thus they all 
reached the opposite shore in safety. How little these 
children of nature want to satisfy their requirements. 

March 30. — I am to-day quite unwell and confined 
to our cabin. I went out with only the white under- 
cap and tarbush on my head without the turban, 
although the sun was rather hot, and got a sun stroke. 
My head burns sadly, but I am not losing much to- 
day, for after a short voyage we went aground again. 
It was of no use to pump the water out of the boiler to 
lighten the vessel ; we could net get off, and I am at 
leisure to dream of a better future. The natives are 
become much wilder. The inhabitants of the two 
shores are carrying on a war of mutual extermination. 
A Syrian told us it was his greatest desire to drink the 
blood of his enemies. Lieutenant Murphy was to-day, 
during his astronomical survey, attacked by forty 
Arabs, armed with guns, swords, clubs, and bows and 
arrows ; but so great is their fear of the enchantments 
of the Franks that they did not venture to lay hands on 

With the English Ettph^ates Expedition. 205 

the three Enghshmen ; but if once we lose our pres- 
tige all safety will be at an end. 

March 31. — Another standstill to record ; it seems 
likely to be the chief event of every day. We started 
early ; the river was splendid, the channel deep, the 
shores pleashig, in parts romantic, though bare of wood 
except on a few islands. My eyes are now used to the 
dazzhng whiteness of the chalk cliffs. The narrow 
passage through which the river makes way for itself 
was abeady in sight, and 1 was eagerly looking for the 
change of formation and products on the other side. 
Only six miles to our halting place, the ruins of Kara 
Bambüge, when the steamer made an unlucky turn, 
we stuck fast, and could not get off. 

April 1. — No hope of soon getting off. The current 
sends the steamer higher up on the sandbank. We 
are in want of the cables, anchors, and provisions daily 
expected from Alexandretta. 

In order to fill up the time, Messrs. Charlewood 
and Hector and Eassam were sent to take soundings as 
far as Beles. Although still tormented with headache, 
I went an excursion with my wife, the Colonel, Lieu- 
tenant Murphy, and Mr. Ainsworth. All were well 
armed as usual, since Mr. Hector had what was happily 
a comic rather than a tragic adventure, though it might 
easily have turned out to be a serious one. An auda- 
cious Arab, with the politest air in the world, proposed 
to take off his silk neck-handkerchief; when Hector 
contemptuously pushed the fellow off, he opened his 
mantle and showed that he was armed with sword and 
gun. Hector, without showing the least fear, coolly 

2o6 Syria and British Burniah. 

held his double-barrelled pistol to the man's head, 
whereupon, with a profound obeisance, he withdrew. 
Mr. Hector took part in the Niger Expedition. 

We went to the tent village of Bambüge, whose 
sheikh, an enlightened man amongst his people, was 
looked upon as the ruler of the whole district. He 
had been invited by Ibrahim Pacha to the late festivities 
at Aleppo, and had brought back the news, as a great 
state secret, that the English were secretly in the 
Pacha's service, and that the steamers were intended 
for the transport of Egyptian soldiers for the capture 
of Baghdad. 

It is very troublesome here to be known as a doctor. 
People who have been suffering for years from incur- 
able diseases hope to obtain help which it is impossible 
to give. My search for plants at once betrayed me as 
a hakim bashi, a character, however, to which I owe 
much kindness. 

The heat was great ; when we reached the village 
we asked for milk, but could not get any ; my head 
Avas in a burning heat, which increased the tormenting 
thirst. Once more I asked for hahk (milk), when a 
blue-hpped Hecate seized me mysteriously by the arm, 
took me into another tent, and showed me a vessel full 
of sheep's milk, but would not give me any until I had 
felt the pulse and gently touched the wound of a young 
man lying there, badly wounded in the head. She was 
then satisfied, and sure that her patient would recover ; 
so great is the faith of Orientals in European power 
and knowledge. I moistened my burning hps with a 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 207 

Vegetation is very forward here ; we returned well 
laden with treasures. 

Afril 2. — On the days when w^e are stuck fast we 
occupy ourselves with reading, and the ship's classical 
library provides a good selection. We have read 
Gibbon with profit, parts of Herodotus and Ammianus 
Marcellus. Ancient history is so much more interesting 
here, where every moment recalls stupendous events. 

Towards evening we were agreeably surprised by 
the sight of the flat boat. The clumsy craft is difficult 
to turn, and the strong current would certainly have 
carried it beyond us, if it had not run upon a sandbank 
not far from the steamer. 

The brave Pitzjames at once came on board, and 
gave us a humorous and picturesque description of his 
Argonaut voyage without a rudder. 

For six days the boat had been fast upon sand- 
banks, different ones, but always at least one a day. 
It had struck upon rocks, sprung leaks, which had to 
be stopped with earth and cotton, and had twice been 
attacked by Arabs in mid river, who, however, had 
not courage to stand English shot. The crew had had 
to endure hunger, heat, cold, and wet, and now at last 
they had to stick fast with us. 

Ajpril 0. — A though it is Easter Monday, officers 
and crew have had a laborious day. Every effort was 
made to float the steamer, but just as she began to 
move the hawser snapped in two, and we were hurled 
firmer than ever on the wretched sandbank. blessed 
patience, how severely art thou tried ! But I am 
ashamed of this exclamation when I look around me 

2o8 Syria and B^^itish Bitrmah. 

and see how inevitable difficulties and adversities only 
call forth greater courage, energy, and endurance m 
my comrades, and reflect that no murmurs are ever 
heard. I will follow their example, and in future write 
no more about being stuck fast, but only make three 
crosses at the most. 

A caravan of fourteen camels brought us to-day 
the things we want and the long lacking provisions. 
But they were unladen at Bambüge, so that we could 
only enjoy them in anticipation. Another trial of 
patience, after being restricted for a month to Euphrates 
water, particularly hard for the English crew, who miss 
the rum to which they are accustomed. 

A serious incident occurred to-day in consequence 
of the feud between two Arab tribes. Sheikh Hassan, 
of the tribe of Beni Seid, could not wait to see the 
wonder (Merkeb Inglis) until our steamer reached his 
village. He therefore crossed the river on an inflated 
sheepskin, and was hospitably received on board the 
steamer. After he had been shown over it, he said 
with great gravity as a compliment, ' The English are 
people of higher descent than the Arabs.' He is a 
flat-nosed, brown, thick- set, elderly man, with a scanty 
beard, but a person of consequence in this corner of 
the world. His tribe are attached to him, and have 
gone through many a bloody struggle for him. There 
is a feud between him and his neighbours the Fachals, 
a wild, powerful tribe on the Mesopotamian side, who 
have killed two of his children. This has so increased 
the enmity between them, that they thirst for ven- 
geance and drink each other's blood. The feud origi- 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 209 

natecl in a usurpation. When Sheikh Hassan's father, 
who had enjoyed great consideration among his people, 
died, during his son's minority, his brother was sheikh, 
but he still usurped the office after his nephews were 
of age. Indignant at this, the eldest, Hassan, with his 
brothers and a great part of the tribe, went off and 
formed another tribe — whether with or without blood- 
shed and violence we could not discover, as we could 
not hear the other side. At all events, the feud must 
have been very fierce, as three of Hassan's sons have 
fallen victims to it. He related his murderous deeds 
aüd plans for future bloodshed with the greatest cool- 
ness ; it appears to me that he would be quite as 
ready to plunder us as he is to assure us of his friendship, 
if he could. His people boast that he is a capital horse 
stealer. Although his tribe is not so strong as the 
Fachals, their craftiness keeps the balance true. 

We wanted to get to the Syrian shore with our 
little boat, for each of us to go about his business, and 
to take back the sheikh. But, as we were fast in the 
middle of the river, and there was an island between 
us and the main land, orders were given to steer first 
for the Mesopotamian side, to follow it for a little way 
up stream, and then to let the boat float down to the 
intended landing place. 

The sheikh expressed great alarm at having to land 
on the side where his mortal foes lived, but was pacified 
on being assured that he was quite safe with the Eng- 
hsh, and that we should cross over at once to the 
other side without stopping. 

The Colonel and Murphy intended to take some 

VOL. I. P 

2 lo Syria and B7'itish Burniah. 

bearings, for whicli Corporal Greenhill carried the 
instruments. Mr. Hector was to return to Port Wil- 
liam to conduct the Tigris^ now ready, through the 
channels ; these four, myself, Eassam, who was to buy 
sheep, eggs, &c., in the village, and the boat's crew 
formed the party ; it happened that we were all un- 
armed. After we had landed, the Colonel and Murphy 
went off, while the rest lingered near the boat, I busy 

On the shore stood five men, who, as soon as they 
recognised the sheikh, made signs of hostility by lifting 
their feet and striking the soles. He saw that he must 
fly as fast as possible, begged urgently to be put across 
that instant, and hastily loaded a fowling piece, which 
he had just received as a present from the Colonel. I 
looked about to discover what had so scared the man, 
and saw a hundred Arabs running towards us from the 
next tent village. But Hector, trusting to the influence 
of the mighty English, took no steps for having the 
sheikh put across. A serious combat seemed to me 
inevitable, and I hastened to get the help of the 
Color el and Murphy, but before we could reach them 
the hostile Arabs had reached the shore, and had 
begun to fire upon the sheikh in the boat. Two of 
the most daring leaped into the water ; the sheikh fired 
off his gun and shattered the arm of one of them ; he 
then cowered down in the boat, the bulwark of which 
protected him from the sword thrusts now aimed at 
him. Just then the loud crash of a 9-pounder, loaded 
with blank cartridge, was heard from the steamer, and 
the tribe were scattered like spray. Our friends on 

With the English Euphrates Expeditio7i, 2 1 1 

board had observed the transaction and given timely 
aid. All this was the work of a few minutes. The 
sheikh was quickly taken on board. It was a miracle 
that none of the balls which had pierced the boat had 
struck him. 

The rest of us marched in a line to the shore, 
without showing any fear, to meet the Arabs, who were 
again collecting, but they were not disposed to attack 
us, and retired to their village. Eassam now also 
returned ; during the action he had been in danger of 
his life, and had only saved himself by giving out that 
he was an officer under Ibrahim Pacha, commissioned 
to make peace between the hostile tribes ; he had even 
persuaded the people to give him back the sheikh's 
fowhng piece, which they had taken from him and 
were carrying about the village as a trophy. 

How rough and bloodthirsty these people are, and 
yet so childish and simple. They have good natural 
abilities, and much might be done with them if it were 
set about in the right way. 

A'pvil 5. — In spite of aU our endeavours, three 
crosses again. 

Lieutenant Murphy, his assistant Greenhill, Seid 
Ali, as interpreter, and I made an excursion on the Meso- 
potamian side to the highest chalk hill, 1,000 feet above 
the level of the river, about five miles off. We used • 
to see it looking down from Port William. Lieutenant 
Murphy wished to take some bearings, and I promised 
myself a rich booty in plants and beetles. We reached 
the summit without difficulty ; it is crowned by the 
ruins of a most ancient watch tower. A great extent 

p 2 

212 Syria and British Burmah, 

of country lay spread out before us, forming a pleasing 
picture towards the south. Towards the north the 
ranges of hills tumbled about looked like colossal 
ruins — a wild and desolate scene only enlivened by 
the far-gleaming waters of the river. 

There is no cultivated land, except a few patches 
sown with wheat on some of the islands. The sand 
and mud is turned about a little with a pitchfork, and 
the seed is then thrown in. 

While we were busy with our afiairs a crowd of 
armed Arabs assembled. With bare arms and legs 
and their tarbushes ornamented with tufts of tulips, 
they looked very much like Indians. Keeping our 
arms in readiness we retired into the ruins of the 
tower. Seid AH pretended not to understand Arabic, 
partly to avoid their importunity, partly to overhear 
their conversation. ' See, there are four of the foreign 
dogs whom we should so like to plunder ! If only they 
had not the devil inside them, who has his seat in the 
fire-ship ! ' They sat down and followed our move- 
ments with the greatest interest, but if any of them 
ventured to touch any of our things we gave them a 
stern reprimand. It does not do here to relax the 
dignity of a master for a moment. 

Meanwhile more Arabs came up. They carried a 
wild pig which they had killed, and excused themselves 
for touching the unclean beast by saying that Eassam 
had ordered them to do it. We left the place ; Murphy 
took further observations. I was successful in collecting, 
and we did not get back till late in the evening. 

Ajpril 6. — Nothing but' crosses to put down! The 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 2 1 


water is continually falling ; we are upon dry ground. 
The Colonel is very unwell, he has had continued 
attacks of fever. 

April 15. — Still upon dry land. It cannot be 
helped. How could I think of gently gliding down 
during the exploration of the river. We must think 
ourselves happy that, at any rate, the British mother 
country takes good care to provide the children she 
sends out into the world with news from home, and 
food for the mind, and so keeps them in constant 
intercourse with herself. It is incredible what a mass 
of daily papers comes by every steamer by way of 
Malta and Alexandretta, or from Constantinople ; it is 
impossible to get through them all. Besides these we 
have the chief periodicals, such as the ' Transactions of 
the Eoyal Geographical, Mineralogical, Geological, and 
Astronomical Societies,' the ' Quarterly ' and ' Edin- 
burgh ' Reviews, the ' Athena3um,' ' Literary Gazette,' 
' Penny Cyclopsedia,' ' Sporting Magazine,' ' Asiatic 
Journal,' ' United Service,' ' Blackwood,' ' The Nautical 

Thus we are kept informed of what goes on in 
Europe ; I also learn something of the latest German 
literature, by means of English translations, and the criti- 
cisms of our productions interest me very much. So well 
provided with reading we can well bear the long delay. 

We are on a very friendly footing with the Arabs 
about here. They bring us every day, leben (sour milk 
and mustard), truffles, wild garlic, a root something like 
chicory, sometimes eggs, and even wild pigs, besides 
the everlasting sheep, which are our chief diet. 

2 14 Syria and British Burmah. 

Like all half savage races they are ignorant of the 
value of money, and will not take it ; but exchange is 
carried on all the more eagerly and profitably by our 
people, who brought all sorts of manufactures with 
them. Orange- coloured cotton handkerchiefs are great 
favourites. During the last week we have seen the 
natives wearing boots and orange-coloured turbans. 

These friendly relations enable me to pursue my 
rambles hghtly armed, that is, with only dagger and 
pistols, a great comfort with the increasing heat and 
the various apparatus I have to carry. 

Two horse stealers were caught to-day, an Arab 
and a negro, just as they were about to make off with 
some of our transport animals, which were grazing on 
shore. They were brought bound on board and shut 
up in the dark coal-hole. The Colonel was at first 
inclined to send them as examples to Ismail Bey at 
Aleppo, where they would have been beheaded as 
notorious thieves. Their friends did not concern them- 
selves in the least about them, but only laughed at 
them for their want of alertness in being caught. 
The culprits themselves, thinking the Franks would 
eat them, only prayed to be killed off hand, before the 
great bad spirit below in the dark ship strangled them. 
The poor devils escaped with only a fright ; after a 
slight chastisement they were let go. 

April 18. — Thank God, after being stuck fast for 
nine days on one spot, we are afloat again. Yesterday 
morning, to our unspeakable delight, the water began 
to rise at the rate of an inch an hour. We sat the 
whole day on deck, watching the Euphratometer, 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 215 

manufactured by ourselves, and calling it out to one 
another as every inch on the scale disappeared in the 
water. About seven o'clock we heard the first low, and 
to us now musical sound of the rattling of the pebbles 
under the steamer. At the same moment, however, the 
strong, double anchor cable broke. Quick as lightning 
she turned round, and as there was no steam on she ran 
half a mile into another channel and was again set fast 
between sand-banks. To our great joy the water rose 
unusually high during the night, and at six a.m., with 
full steam on, we regained the right channel ; the 
steamer obeyed the smallest movement of the helm and 
behaved very well. 

We lay to near shore to take in the coal, heavy 
tackle, &c., which had been unladen. In this the 
Arabs, who had come running up, were very helpful ; 
amidst frightful yells, they drew along the chain cables, 
leaped into the water, and worked well, naked as they 
were, for over an hour. Just as we were about 
moving off oiu: brave Fitzjames and his crew arrived 
On foot ; he brought the bad news that the flat boat 
had got stranded and had sunk. The clumsy craft had 
not been able to withstand the current near Kara 
Bambüge. The river there, in winding between the 
last high chalk cliffs, forms a remarkable pass, which is 
important for physical geography; the land is more 
level further down and the hills are of a different 
formation ; the current dashes on the rocky shore, and 
sets with great force on the opposite side. Every effort 
to guide the craft in this dangerous pass was fruitless, 
with a loud crash it dashed upon the rocks, so that the 

2 1 6 Syria and British Burmah. 

crew had scarcely time to save themselves, first by 
means of the cotton bags and then in the boat. The 
Expedition sustains a great loss by this misfortune. 
Fifteen tons of coal, the hfe-blood of our engine; 
barrels of flour, provisions, and v^eapons of all sorts, 
clothing, &c., have sunk in seven fathoms of water, 
and nothing will be able to be saved, even by the aid 
of our diving bell. The gentlemen think much less of 
their own losses ; Major Estcourt, who lost a consider- 
able part of his baggage, said laconically, ''One must be 
prepared for such disasters beforehand.' 

To cheer us up, soon afterwards, black clouds of 
smoke announced the arrival of the long-expected 
Tigris ; she came down the river with extraordinary 
speed, and cast anchor near us. We all hastened on 
board to welcome the new arrival. She had shared 
our fate and had been thirteen days on a sand-bank. 

The Tigns was at once ordered to proceed to the 
place where the raft was wrecked, and to save what 
could be saved. We were delighted with her majestic 
appearance as she glided past us up stream, stemming 
the current, and sitting on the water like a nymph. 
I comprehend the awe and fear with which this wonder 
inspires the Arabs. We felt the same ourselves forty 
years ago, and now rejoice that man's genius has 
curbed the elements and employs their force for his 
own ends. 

A violent storm, hke the tropical tornadoes, in the 
evening, endangered our being cut adrift and driven 
again upon the bank, which lay before our eyes. 
The waves tossed and foamed and beat with fearful 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 2 1 7 

force against our ship's sides, and made her creak and 
tremble ; but the danger happily passed over, and we 
went to bed relieved from anxiety. 

April 19. — We were ready to start at six. The 
water, which had risen over eight feet, presented a 
grand expanse. The quantity of foam, and the dirty 
reddish colour, were signs of a still further rise. It was 
more difficult to steer than usual, owing to the many 
banks covered with water. The only warnings against 
shallows were the tops of the tamarisks, of which there is 
a scanty growth among the pebbles. We have not seen 
a trace of the ^ for et immense^ which GeoiFray marks on 
his map of the Pachahc of Aleppo, above and below 
Beles, for a distance of eighty leagues. 

On the left shore there was a large settlement of 
the Fachal Arabs ; nearly 1,000 tents were pitched in 
the plain. Large herds of camels, horned cattle, horses, 
and sheep were grazing within the *camp, while the 
whole population assembled on the shore to stare at the 
steamer. They invited us to stop, and when we went 
past, swift as an arrow, some of the men tried to follow 
us on their fleet horses, but in vain, for we were 
making eleven and a half knots an hour. 

In an hour and a half we reached Beles. We 
anchored near a meadow with grass up to the knees, a 
picturesque spot with extensive distant views, and what 
appeared like considerable ruins in sight, about three 
miles off. This may have been the ancient harbour of 
Aleppo, as this is the point of the river nearest to the 
city, and the country is favourable for communication. 

We have now made 100 English miles in thirty- 

2 1 8 Syria and British Biirmah. 

four days — not a great result, but still satisfactory, 
considering the difficulties and labour of a trial trip 
like this. How long will the remaining 1400 take? 

As soon as we had breakfasted everyone hastened 
to land to turn the stay to account after his own 
fashion. Mr. Tardy was first this time ; he wanted to 
take a survey of Barbalissus before noon. Estcourt 
wished to make a sketch ; Ains worth, our antiquary, 
to search for the hunting park of the kings of 
Syria ; and I, as lord and master of the animal and 
vegetable creation, to seek out and greet my subjects 
here. Cleaveland and Charlewood are to set up a 
workshop on shore, as the steamer is to be cleaned 
and painted. We intend to stay several days here, as 
we expect provisions from Aleppo. I hope they will 

Tired and exhausted by the heat, for it was 86° 
Fahrenheit in th6 shade, we returned at sundown, and 
interchanged our observations at dinner. Our cook, 
an American negro, is unfortunately not skilled in his 
art, or the conversation might have been more lively. 

April 20. — The scum which has come up with the 
rubbish and settled between the vessel and the shore 
has brought a multitude of insects with it. It literally 
swarms with them, and I find some very interesting 
specimens which I have been wishing to possess for 
years. For instance, Scaritidce^ Polyphemus^ with Cicin- 
delidce and Tanymecus united, and other species which 
are new to me. The crown of all, however, was Mega- 
cephale Euphratica Oliv., which I have been looking 
forward to ever since I have been on the Euphrates. 
The whole day occupied with entomology. 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 219 

April 21. — To-day, like yesterday, sought for and 
preserved new treasures. My Pauline and I were quite 
dexterous in spying out and capturing the most minute 
creatiu:es, hardly visible to the naked eye. No one on 
board enters into it, and they laugh at the importance 
we attach to these invisible things. So various are 
men's tastes. 

Decomposition takes place so rapidly in this climate, 
and our people are so weakened by repeated attacks of 
illness, and so susceptible of miasmatic influences, that 
the exhalations from the decaying vegetable matter 
accumulated round the steamer have produced live 
cases of severe intermittent fever in scarcely twenty- 
four hours. The poor Colonel suffers from it more than 
anyone. I fear, unless he takes more care of himself, 
he will not live to carry out his undertaking. 

Besides the large wrecked raft, four pontoon rafts 
have been built. They form a considerable fleet, in- 
tended for the transport of various articles, including 
the diving bell, weighing three tons. We heard to- 
day that one of them, under command of Sarder, and 
manned only by Arabs, had been attacked and robbed 
by Bedouins. The Tigris was at once despatched to 
the spot to demand compensation from the delinquents. 
She was scarcely off when we saw Sarder coming 
down, seated on the diving bell as on a throne. A 
desire to oblige the Enghsh, and perhaps also to get a 
backsheesh, had induced a troop of Arabs to attack 
and drive away the Arab crew. Sarder tried in vain 
to restore peace. The shots were whistling round his 
head, and he had to jump into the water and swim to 

2 20 Syria and British Burmah. 

shore. Thence lie tlireatened to fetch the fire-spitting 
shipj which would kill them all. This electrified them ; 
they came and kissed his shoulders, and fell at his feet, 
until he forgave them, and could continue his voyage 
in peace. 

Aipril 22. — To-day Pauline and I took a walk to 
the distant ruins, accompanied only by Eassam, our 
learned Chaldean. The nearer we get to the Aniza 
Arabs the more cautious we ought to be, but our con- 
scious superiority makes us careless, and I fear some- 
thing unpleasant may happen. Perhaps I, on my 
solitary rambles, shall have to pay the first ransom. 

While my wife, seated on a height near the grave 
of a sheikh, was taking a sketch, I had time to inspect 
the ruins carefully ; they are the first I have seen in 
this country built of burnt bricks. They are flat square 
bricks, joined together by a thick cement, an excellent 
binding material. 

The whole district, an extensive undulating tract 
of country, covered with luxuriant vegetation, is strewn 
with rubbish, fragments of bricks and potsherds, indi- 
cating the site of a town. The bricks are evidence of 
its Assyrian origin. On these ruins Eomans and Sara- 
cens have built again, which is obvious from numerous 
foundations, although but few ruins remain which indi- 
cate what they were. Among these is a Eoman castle, 
probably the palace of Barbalissus, a huge, thick, square 
tower with small windows. Most of the buildings are 
of the Saracenic period ; there are several rather rough 
mosques, in one of which two sarcophagi are found. 
A well preserved minaret, eighty- two feet; high, is a 

With the English Etipkrates Expedition. 221 

real ornament to the neighbourhood. A winding stair 
of 112 steps leads to the top, from which you enjoy an 
unlimited panoramic view. The elegant structure is 
adorned with Arabic inscriptions and sentences from 
the Koran. Unfortunately it will not long rear its 
form aloft, for its foundations are very much under- 
mined, apparently on purpose. 

The subterranean vaults are inhabited by jackals, 
foxes, and hysenas. The lion is also said to be found 
in the bushy marshland of the river. I have not seen 
one myself, nor yet crocodiles, but Mr. Ainsworth and 
several of the crew maintain that thev have seen them. 
It appears to me highly improbable that they should 
exist so high up the river, and if they did the Arabs 
could hardly swim in it so carelessly. But I can con- 
firm the existence of the beaver, as we had the good 
fortune to capture one ; it is destined for the Zoological 
Gardens in London. 

April 23. — There was a slight skirmish to-day. 
Corporal Greenhill was busy driving in a station flag 
for the survey, not above 200 yards from the Tigris^ 
when several Arabs rushed upon him, pointed their 
long lances at his throat, and made signs to him to 
take off his coat. Being so near the steamer he was 
unarmed and could not defend himself The thieves 
took off his blue coat, and eagerly cut off the brass 
buttons with their sabres, no doubt taking them for 
gold. They then made him a polite bow, jeeringly 
handed him back his mutilated swallow-tail, and made 
off as fast as they had come. This insult was too much 
for a Briton, Breathless, and trembling with rage. 

2 2 2 Syria and British Burmah, 

Greenhill came back to the steamer, and, pointing to 
his coat, disfigured by holes instead of adorned with 
buttons, he demanded satisfaction for the insulted 
honour of England. In order to avenge him, and still 
more to inspire the Arabs, who were getting too bold, 
with proper respect, a detachment of well-armed men 
was quickly despatched, under command of Major 
Estcourt, to pursue and, if possible, capture the thieves. 
Lieutenant Cleaveland climbed the nearest hill to see 
which direction they had taken, and at about eighty 
paces ofi* he saw a troop of Arabs approaching. 
Without thinking he fired at them. They were startled 
and stood still ; but when Cleaveland, who is near- 
sighted, took out the long telescope which he always 
carries with him, to see that his shot had taken efiect, 
they beat a hasty retreat, probably taking the telescope 
for a powerful rifle. Several of us, myself among the 
rest, hastened to his assistance. We rallied round his 
awe-inspiring tube, as if it had been the green banner 
of the Prophet, and it was borne by Sergeant Quin 
before us in triumph. Thus we joined Major Estcourt. 
He had seen spies on all the hills, and numerous hordes 
of Arabs, probably Aniza, in the distance, but none of 
them ventured nearer. As it was not our purpose to 
pursue them farther, after we had occupied the hill 
for an hour in pouring rain (a phenomenon at this time 
of year), he allowed the men to march back in two 
columns in military order. Corporal Greenhill was of 
course very much put out. 

In spite of this peaceful termination of the affair, 
we had a man severely wounded. The brave Fitz- 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 223 

James fell down the slippery descent, and broke his 
leg just above the ankle. He was carried back to the 
steamer unconscious. Happily he is of such a cheerful 
temperament that when he was hardly come to himself, 
and only just informed of what had happened, he began 
to ^arrange his toilet, even while his leg was being set, 
in order, as he said, that he might be fit to receive 

April 28. — My daily and often distant excursions 
afford me the opportunity of thoroughly inspecting the 
country and convincing myself of its great fertility. 
The statement that the interior of Syria is not fruitful 
from want of water and high temperature applies only 
to some parts, and even in these, the olive, fig, and vine 
could be successfully cultivated. The whole way from 
Birosß to Babylon was once planted with trees ; and 
what might not be done by cultivation considering the 
extraordinary fertilising properties of the alluvial soil 
of the Euphrates ! 

Here, near Beles, corn, a sort of Hordeum., grows 
wild among the hills, and in many places the grass is 
so thick that you cannot get through it. A footway, 
which was made a few years ago, is impenetrably 
grown over by a species of Antonatum. Each different 
plant chooses a spot for itself of from 20 to 200 feet 
square, which it occupies exclusively. Oats, bromus, 
centaury, camomile, viola, wormwood, aconite, and 
other species are interspersed, each covering a separate 
field, producing a mosaic on a grand scale. 

We are to-day very busy packing and writing. 
Eeports and collections are to be despatched to the 

2 24 Syria and British Burmah. 

mother country in a few days to show that her sons 
are not spending time and money for nothing. I am 
reluctant to part with my collections before I have had 
time to classify them, for in this the naturalist in distant 
lands finds his reward and delight ; but, on the other 
hand, I am glad to show that there is some use in my 
accompanying the Expedition. 

Our adventurous Elliot was sent as an ambassador 
of peace, on foot, and in a garment of camel's hair, 
such as the dervishes wear, to the distant camp of the 
Aniza Arabs, the scourges and worst plunderers of the 
country. They proudly style themselves ' Sons of Ish- 
mael ' and ' Princes of the Desert.' 

In the clear evening light we saw a dark moving 
mass in the horizon, and hoped that it might be the 
much needed provisions from Aleppo, which are likely 
enough to be plundered by wandering Bedouins. We 
followed the moving line with eager suspense, for in a 
solitude like this, where the only hving thing you see 
is a wild pig, an owl, or a crow, and you hear nothing 
but your own voice and the howl of jackals and wolves, 
every new sight is an object of the greatest interest. 
Slowly, far too slowly, the mass drew nearer. We 
now recognised the long lances, adorned with ostrich 
feathers, of a procession of Arabs. In measured and 
solemn march the dromedaries bore their riders, one in 
front of the hump, the other behind. The chiefs, how- 
ever, were mounted on splendid horses, and when they 
perceived us they gave them the reins to display their 

When about 200 paces off, the men alighted, stuck 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 225 

their plumed lances into the ground, and sat down in a 
semi-circle. Before long our dervish Elliot came 
prancing up on a spirited little horse to announce the 
arrival of the ' Princes of the Desert,' whereupon the 
necessary arrangements were made to give them a 
good meal after their long march. A number of 
sheep were sent, with the proper quantity of rice ; the 
viands prepared for us would scarcely have satisfied 
their keen appetites. 

To pitch their camp, kill the sheep, skin and tear 
them in pieces, and make an excellent pilaw was but 
the work of a few minutes. We looked on at a dis- 
tance, as etiquette forbade our going nearer. Having 
satisfied their hunger, and the chiefs having reassumed 
their dignity, three of the most eminent came on board, 
accompanied by Eassam and Elliot. Their physiog- 
nomies were different from those we had seen before, 
and two of them might be called very handsome. 
Although their complexions were dark brown, their 
long curly hair, long narrow faces, with rather an ex- 
pression of sufiering, and their soft but sparkhng eyes, 
reminded me of representations of the Crusaders. They 
were received by the Colonel, surrounded by the 
ofiicers, in the grand saloon, with the utmost ceremony, 
and the customary assurances of friendship having been 
exchanged, and the pipes of peace smoked, they were 
conducted to the tent erected for the night. On shore 
the spectacle of some Congreve rockets awaited them, 
which astonished them greatly. They asked if the 
stars went beyond the moon and remained suspended 

VOL. I. Q 

226 Syria and British Burmah, 

Apinl 29. — Our guests came on board again in the 
morning with the same solemnity as before. Although 
longing for a nearer inspection of the marvels, they 
did not betray their curiosity in the least. 

It was thought well to acquaint them w^ith the 
power of the ship's guns. They were first shown guns 
with bayonets, and the firing of them with a match 
seemed to them hke magic. They had never seen 
cannon, and the effect produced on them by some dis- 
charges of canister from two 9-pounders into the water 
was tremendous. They were terrified, and said, ' Who 
can resist you? you kill 1,000 men vdth one shot!' 
They were then shown the armoury, at the sight of 
which they exclaimed, ' Why so many weapons ? One 
shot from the great gun would drive away all the 
Arabs ! ' But the machinery, the great beams, the 
piston and cylinders excited their greatest astonish- 
ment. ' How,' they asked, ' can you work iron hke 
that? it is cut as fine as cheese.* They saw Fitzjames 
in passing, stretched upon his couch, and expressed 
polite regrets at his accident. They recommended 
eating lamb as the best means of curing a broken bone. 

They were much struck with the library in the 
saloon. ' See,' said one, ' that is where they get their 
wisdom from ! How costly these books must be ; they 
are even gold outside,' pointing as he spoke to the gilt 
lettering on the binding. ' 

Meanwhile Pauline was sketching one of them in 
her book ; he observed it, took, the book, and in turning 
over the leaves he saw a sketch of a Turkish lady on 
horseback, and exclaimed, ' How can the Franks do 

Wiik tJu English Euphi'ates Expedition, 227 

it r In such a little space, tlie woman, the horse, and 
actually saddle, bridle, and bit, all just as it is ! ' 

Our guests were invited to dine with us to-day.^ 
but they satisfied their appetites beforehand in camp 
with an excellent pilaw. They had never before sat 
on chairs at a table, but dexterously took the places 
assigned to them. Having never handled spoons, 
knives, and forks, they watched their neighbours, and 
imitated them so well, that one might have thought 
they had often been guests at European tables. They 
made their remarks with dignity and without con- 
straint. ' What do you want these instruments for ? ' 
they asked, pointing to the forks. ' Has not God given 
you fingers ? ' When pork was put on table, a delicacy 
to us after the everlasting mutton, they did not touch 
it, but made the sensible remark, that * everyone must 
obey his precepts.' They took no wine, but were not 
surprised that we drank what was forbidden to them. 
The transparency of glass was new to them ; they 
wished to pour out water for themselves, but coidd 
not tell whether the glasses were full or empty. 

In the afternoon a solemn deputation came to enter 
into an eternal treaty of peace with our great sheikh, 
and to receive a written firman to that effect. This 
was Colonel Chesney's wish. Eassam was commissioned 
to draAv up the articles in Arabic, and they were at 
once accepted and ratified on both sides without auy 
diplomatic subterfuges. The Colonel then said, ' We 
are come as friends ; we will bring you all the manu- 
factures that you want and take your wool in exchange/ 
' Taib, Taib ! ' (Good) they exclaimed with emphasi;^. 

2 28 Sy7^ia a7td British Bttrmah. 

' But/ continued the Colonel, ' we desire to live in 
peace and friendsliip, not with you only, but with all 
the tribes. You are in perpetual enmity with the 
Shamar ; make peace with them ! Want of unity 
divides and weakens you ; union will make you strong.' 
They listened to him calmly, then the eldest answered, 
' Peace is good, but there must be war too ; without it 
there would be no men. Our fathers and forefathers 
made war with the Shamars, and we must and will do 
so too. It is enjoined by our laws.' It was vain to, 
argue against this. 

May 1. — The officers and crew who were sent to 
take soundings as far as Ja'ber returned to-day greatly 
exhausted, having walked thirty miles through thorns 
and briars in the burning heat. 

Our amiable Estcourt has a severe attack of fever 
again, and, out of regard for the English doctors, has 
to allow himself to be treated after the English fashion, 
which means to be everlastingly taking calomel. Only 
the English constitution could survive such treatment. 

May 2. — The Tigris is going on to Ja'ber to send 
the sounding boat from there to Eacca. We, unfor- 
tunately, have still to wait for the caravan of provisions 
from Aleppo. 

Locusts have appeared in that neighbourhood in im- 
mense numbers, but, although it is only thirty-six miles 
off, they have not come as far as this, and Ibrahim 
Pacha has adopted such vigorous measures against 
them that further devastation is averted. He sent the 
whole garrison out, 12,000 strong, to collect locusts, 
and pays a private person four piastres for a bushel of 

With the English Etcphrates Expedition. 229 

them ; the people found this a pleasant way of earning 
money ; they shut up their bazaars, and so it is difficult 
to get a pair of boots, a tarbush, or even provisions. 

May 3. — This is a fine place for sportsmen; it 
swarms with wild pigs, who, however, are so tame that 
you can kill them with clubs. The antiquaries tried to 
make out that they are descendants of those in the 
celebrated zoological gardens of the Syrian satraps, 
and to find traces of the park of Belisarius, a diffi- 
cult task, as there was not a tree to be found. On 
the edge of the river, however, the gnarled roots of 
a liquorice tree were laid bare, so these gentlemen 
thought they had discovered the site of the old forest. 
The multiphcation of wild swine appears perfectly 
natural to me, without the hypothesis of a zoological 
garden, for their food is abundant, and they are pro- 
tected by religious prejudices. Mr. Charlewood and I 
were lucky enough to kill a boar weighing 2i cwt. 
On an island near we saw a whole family of them, who 
regarded us with curiosity. Three w^ere killed. The 
Colonel started eleven in one place. They are a dif- 
ferent variety from om^s ; the young are striped like a 
zebra ; the old ones reddish brown and very large. 
The Arabs have not such a horror of these unclean 
beasts as the Turks. Some of those on board are even 
ready to eat their flesh. It is with insignificant things 
of this sort that civilisation sometimes begins. 

May 6. — Inch Allah ! The goods are come. To- 
morrow we leave this spot, which promises to be of 
great importance as the first English settlement and 
the harbour of Aleppo. I no longer feel any interest 

230 Syria and British Burmak. 

in this monotonous country, its scenery, or products. 
The everlasting white chalk fatigues the eye ; the con- 
glomerate lying upon it, here mixed with flint, only 
gives it a reddish hue ; the narrow strips of spring 
green begin to be bleached ; summer is beginning, but 
it looks like winter here. It is far too near Europe 
and its products for me ; I sigh for the tropics. 

May 7. — The time lost at Beles is to be made up, 
and the steamer is to go straight on to Eacca, a 
distance of seventy miles. Our voyage to-day was more 
agreeable and interesting than any before. The shores, 
at first covered with tamarisk bushes, were soon clothed 
with trees of larger growth, which, with the underwood, 
formed impenetrable thickets. Thousands of birds, 
some of them new to me, sung and twittered in this 
safe retreat, and nightingales warbled their love songs. 
I have never heard such a chorus of birds, and perhaps 
it will be the last time for a long while, as the tropical 
birds have splendid plumage but no song. 

The people will scarcely venture on these islands, 
on which the Hon is said to be occasionally found. 

Two or three miles below Beles the river divides 
into several branches, which, when the water is high, 
unite and form a vast lake. There was a great inunda- 
tion here a fortnight ago ; in many places the water 
reached the tops of the tamarisks. Nothing remains of 
it now but a few ponds, larger or smaller. The banks 
have a washed look, and now and then a high bank 
which has been undermined, falls in. 

This part of the country seems more thickly in- 
habited. The Waldi Arabs hve here, a tribe directly 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 231 

subject to the Aniza, and indirectly to Ibrahim Pacha. 
The men go half naked, but look more to be trusted 
than the Fachals and Beni-Seids. They grow corn 
and practise a sort of primitive irrigation. An appa- 
ratus of wood, not unlike a draw well, is placed 
perpendicularly in the river; ox-hides are filled with 
the water thus drawn up ; these are fixed on rollers, 
drawn over the land by oxen, and the contents emptied 
on the fields. In other places we saw water-courses 
made of clay on a wooden foundation. 

The crowds on shore greeted us with the usual 
' Mash Allah ! ' Some tried in vain to keep pace with 
us on horseback. 

We got safely along to-day, though the reports of 
the soundings — six feet — five feet — did not sound 
reassuring. Opposite Castle Ja'ber we struck, but 
were afloat again directly. This ancient castle, cele- 
brated even in the time of Alexander, called the Giant 
Castle, is a desolate ruin, like everything else once 
grand and beautiful on the shores of the Euphrates. 
In the background is Tell Marabbou, the Holy Hill. 
Alexander the Great crossed the river here on his way 
to Thapsacus. Benjamin of Tudela, found the castle, 
w^hich is built of bricks, a strong place in his time. 
A lofty minaret rises out of the ruins and serves as 
a landmark in the desert. 

We found the Tigris anchored on the shore near 
Ja'ber, and lay to near her. While the tamarisk 
wood brought by the Arabs was being taken in, I 
made a hasty excursion to a cornfield, where there 
were myriads of sulphiu'-coloured cisteJides. We then 

232 Syria and British Burmah, 

went on, tlie Tigris ahead of us. The shores are 
becoming flatter, the chalk chffs, mere breccia, dis- 
appear. A sort of aspen grows along with the tamarisk, 
which here and there reaches a considerable height. 

Our course was almost direct north; the river, 
divided into three branches, makes a great bend. We 
changed oiu" course, but got into a bog, and were stuck 
fast for ten minutes. The Tigris came to our aid, and 
the woodwork intended for bulwarks having been 
unshipped, and the boiler emptied, so that the boat 
was raised %nq inches, we got off. The day was lost 

May 8. — It was fixed to stay here to-day too, to 
replace the loss of coal by the wood on an island near. 
We must turn what the country affords to account. It 
was not lost time to me, as it was an interesting field 
for my observations. 

On one side of the island the vegetation consisted 
of slender tamarisks, brambles, and aspens of a species 
new to me, with scarcely any growth on the sandy soil 
beneath. But the other side was grown over with 
high grass and large aspens. Wild swine, jackals, and 
foxes abound. The sparrows are very bold. They 
build their nests in the brambles and grass, six or 
more, one above another. They do not seem to be 
acquainted with man, for they stared at me without 
fear, like birds do at an owl, and did not fly away. 

Our magpies and starlings are also at home here, 
and I heard a few nightingales. On examining a 
deserted nest I discovered one of the Buprestis family 
and some other species I have long been seeking. 

With the English Ettphrates Expedition. 233 

May 9. — This morning there was a scene which 
reminded me of the primeval forests of America. The 
crews of both steamers were sent to cut wood on 
the island, and had to cut their way through the 
thicket. The Arabs seem to have felled timber here 
at one time, for many half-rotted trees w^ere lying 
about. Indeed, they set so little value on it, that they 
have burnt patches of wood for no purpose. 

By noon enough had been taken in, but being 
green it gave out so httle heat that we did not get ofi' 
till five o'clock. 

The short course to Eacca was very pleasant. 
The undulating outline of the hills on the Syrian side 
looked picturesque in the afternoon light. The river, 
which hitherto has never kept the same coiu'se for 
a thousand yards, is now straight for some distance, 
and there is a fine view over the broad expanse. We 
passed several important ruins in this district so memo- 
rable in history, Susa, for instance, next to Palmyra, 
the chief town of this country, but there are very few 
remains of it. We were also so fortunate as to make out 
with tolerable certainty the doubtful site of Thapsacus, 
the present Hamman. A dam built of stone along the 
river, still traceable, marks the spot where Alexander 
and his army crossed, and this agrees with the account 
of the situation given by Xenophon. 

The extensive but ruined walls of Eacca, the 
ancient Nicephorium, were illumined by the last rays 
of the sun as we drew near. We lay to near the 
town on a, low, swampy shore. 

May 10. — The Arabs here, of the EfTadee tribe, 

2 34 Syria and British Burmah. 

look like a set of thieves, and are doubtless very sorry 
they cannot plunder us. But they are timid: only 
two of them ventured to come near us this morning, 
bringing milk in little wooden vessels. Eassam went 
and spoke to them in a friendly way, and then they 
brought things for sale, but made the shameless 
demand of half a gazi (a florin) for a little milk. 
Several then came, each one bringing something — 
leben (ciurds with mustard), butter, fat extracted from 
boiled sheep's tails, and live sheep. Competition 
lowered their demands, and at last they offered their 
goods for a few yellow handkerchiefs. 

Their tents stood about a mile east of Eacca. 
Most of them wore nothing but a shirt. Some of them 
had a rusty sabre in their girdles, while others were 
only armed with a staff with a ball at the end. 

They soon became very bold. One tried to take 
my gun out of my hand ; another the pistols out of 
my wife's girdle, as backsheesh ; a third drew a rusty 
sword because our servant Mahomed prevented him 
from coming too near the steamer ; but he decamped 
fast enough when Eassam intervened, unarmed, and 
threatened to cut his head off. Another stole a 
hammer, but was found out, and sent off after a 
bastinado. Nevertheless, friendship was sworn with 
the sheikh, who thought himself highly favoured to be 
allowed to come on board and see the wonders. 

The women showed themselves too. They were 
uglier, if possible, than those we have seen before. 
Eecognising my wife as one of their sex, they 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 235 

exclaimed in astonishment, ' Marra ! marra ! ' and said 
what a great pity her lips were not blue. 

My attempt to reach Eacca on foot failed. I got 
into deep mud, then to a broad ditch full of water, 
and had to ask an Arab to take me over. For a con- 
siderable reward he took me over on his back, the 
water reaching to his waist, and the ground was so 
slippery that I was in danger of taking a bath against 
my will. 

I went on, but soon came to a second impassable 
ditch, which had evidently belonged to former fortifi- 
cations, with a few mulberry trees on the banks. So 
I had to turn back, and was glad to find my Arab 
again, who had evidently been waiting for me, hoping 
to extort a still larger backsheesh. I afterwards went 
to the town in a boat with Murphy, who had to take 
trigonometrical measurements. I never saw more 
scanty and miserable remains of a once famous place. 
There is nothing but the wall, crumbled to mud and 
clay, to give any idea of the size of ancient Nicepho- 
lium. Shapeless mounds mark the site where Haroun- 
el-Easchid, after leaving Baghdad, built himself a 
palace, and then an observatory for his son El-Mamun, 
from which the astronomer, El-Bathene, measured the 
first meridian line. Here, and in a minaret of later 
date still standing, Lieutenant Murphy took his astro- 
nomical observations — the first, perhaps^ for a thousand 

Dr. Eauwolf, of Nuremberg, who visited the 
Euphrates in 1573, describes Eacca as still a consider- 
able place. Now the harsh clacking of storks is heard 

236 Syria and British Bur77tah. 

there as they stand meditatively on the walls. The 
black ibis builds its nest by thousands in the ramparts, 
and troops of jackals and foxes come forth by day 
from their subterranean haunts. 

For the first time to-day I saw a swarm of locusts 
cross the water. They formed a broad, compact mass. 
The stronger jumped upon the weaker ones, who had 
to support them, and so passed over. If many 
perished, myriads reached the opposite shore, and 
alighted inside the walls. But there their greatest 
enemy, the green merops, was awaitmg them, the only 
bird here with a pleasant voice. 

V May 11. — We were under weigh at six, but cast 
anchor in half an hour near Amram, not far from a 
wood of the same name, which, on account of the wild 
beasts which infest it, is in evil repute with the Arabs. 
We had to lay in a fresh stock of wood. My first 
attempt to penetrate the thicket failed. When the 
crew had cut a way through it, I came to a place 
covered with tamarisk trees, and should not have got 
so far if wild pigs, who swarm here, had not trodden 
down the ground. Brambles, rank asparagus, clematis, 
sarsaparilla, and other creepers made farther progress 

Swarms of large mosquitos made the place intoler- 
able. Still the day passed quickly and pleasantly to 
me, as it always does when I can listen undisturbed to 
Nature's voice. I seem to hear it more clearly and to 
love it better than that of any human being, except 
my Pauline's. 

When at night the jackals, attracted by the 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 237 

remains of the sheep we had consumed, came 
prowHng about, and began their soprano concert, they 
howled me to sleep. 

Friendship was sworn here with the Weldah 
Arabs by Eassam on his head and beard. They 
greedily ate up the piece of bread given them as a 
token of friendship, when a sudden noise frightened 
them. The Effadee Arabs meanwhile came swimming 
on inflated skins over the river, and, as if they had 
been ordered to do it by the Franks, tried to drive 
away the Weldah's cattle. They thought we had 
betrayed them, and Eassam had some difficulty in 
regaining their confidence. Under the powerful pro- 
tection of the foreigners, they shouted out curses and 
challenges to their enemies. 

May 12. — In the afternoon I was put over to the 
other side — an undulating, treeless, arid plain, on the 
edge of which is a range of low hills lying east and 
west. The plain was quite uncultivated, but numerous 
beds of ancient canals and rough Arab watercourses, 
showed that it had been, and perhaps is now some- 
times, cultivated by the Arabs about here. 

A violent storm, with a fog which made it almost 
dark, prevented me from exploring. I thought these 
atmospheric phenomena portended an earthquake, but 
all remained quiet, and the evening was fine. 

May 13. — We went on to-day in a perhaps adven- 
turous way, without, as before, sending on a boat to 
take soundings. The Tigris, commanded by Lieutenant 
Lynch, went first. The fear of getting aground made 
me nervous ; but as the water was always from two to 

238 Syria and British B2inuah. 

three fathoms deep, I took courage and enjoyed the 
scenery. After a pleasant course of three hours and a 
half we landed at a well-wooded spot on the Mesopo- 
tamian side, as the Tigris has to take in wood again. 

Three Arabs on horseback, almost naked, came up 
to us, cautiously asking if we were friendly to them. 
They would willingly be subject to the Franks, and 
pay tribute, if they would protect them from their 
enemies. After our assurances of friendship, they 
salloped off, but soon came again with a large retinue. 
They belong to the Afadel tribe, are fine men, but 
behaved quite like savages. They asked nothing for 
the sheep which Eassam bought of them but a piece 
of bread, which they divided amongst them, for they 
looked upon it as a token of friendship of which they 
all wished to partake. 

When the twelve o'clock bell was ruDg on board, 
they ran away in a fright, taking it for a hostile sound, 
and only took courage to return after many assurances 
of friendship ; but then they were more importunate. 

May 14. — We proceeded to-day in the same way, 
the Tigris ahead. The river is favourable to naviga- 
tion here, being deep and three hundred yards wide ; 
but to our surprise it took a sudden turn southwards 
towards the mountains. 

A layer of basalt lies on the top of a layer of flints. 
The top is a black mass, and loose, black stones fall 
over the naked precipice, which appears to shut in the 

The grandeur of the scenery increased the nearer 
we approached the passage of the Euphrates through 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 239 

the rocks. This is the third rocky barrier since 
Birejik, and is called the dark precipice. After going 
on for a quarter of an hour we lay to near the ruins of 
a castle, opposite Zelebi, our most picturesque landing- 
place on the whole voyage. We hastened to land, I 
with doubly pleasant anticipations, from my love of 
nature as well as interest in antiquities. 

About a mile lower down are the ruins of a castle, 
which must have been very strong at one time, built of 
blocks of gypsum, filled up with basalt. On the land 
side a portion of wall with three arched openings is 
left standing ; on the , river side it has fallen into the 
water. Not only time, and the hand of man, but earth- 
quakes have conduced to the destruction here, as is 
shown by the deep clefts and rents in the walls. 

Myriads of locusts were devouring the remains of 
herbage ; they are of a different species from those we 
saw at Eacca. 

May 15. — To-day, Sunday, which when possible 
the Colonel strictly observes, there was time to visit 
Zelebi, the summer palace of Zenobia. She built it 
when Queen of Palmyra, after the death of her 
husband, and it was from here, on her flight after the 
conquest of Palmyra by Aurelian, that she was taken 
prisoner to Eome. Her name still lives among the 
Arabs, who call the ruins ' the marble palace.' They 
consist of ghttering laminated gypsum, and are in parts 
in such good preservation that one wonders how they 
came to be deserted centuries ago. The town is in the 
form of a triangle, the angles being marked by three 
hills, and in the middle is the Acropolis. The walls are 

240 Syria and British Btcnnah. 

flanked with towers, twelve on one side and eight on 
the other. Towards the river they are further apart 
than on the rest of the walls. Perhaps there was a 
high road through here from Palmyra to Assyria, for 
there are traces of a bridge on both sides of the river. 
Eaumer, in his travels, says that the city was at that 
time completely in ruins. 

May 16. — The third day's course, without any 
obstacle, brought us to-day to El-Deir. The sheikh 
sent one of his vassals to welcome the foreigners, and 
to ask their protection ; as this man was accustomed to 
conduct rafts of w^ood to El-Deir and Anah, he served 
as a pilot. Besides, thanks to Lieutenant Lynch's skill, 
we passed safely over the shallows, only six or seven feet 
deep, though we floated over a flooded cornfield. 

The course of the river is very winding here, be- 
tween cliffs of chalk and conglomerate. Not far from 
El-Deir we got into such a narrow side channel, that in 
making a turn we struck the shore. Fortunately it 
was only alluvial soil, so that no harm was done, except 
that a quantity of mud came in at the cabin windows. 
The city^ if I may call it so, is buih like an amphitheatre 
on a height, and looks pleasant. On approaching, our 
steamer hoisted the English and Turkish flags, and fired 
a salute. 

We cast anchor on an island opposite the town, to 
avoid being exposed to the throngs of curious people. 
But it was of little use, for the river soon swarmed vvdth 
them. Old and young came swimming on inflated 
skins, the strong ones bore the weak, the parents their 
children on their backs. They felt the steamer's sides, 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 241 

and they ealled out to one another : ' Iron, all 
iron ! ' 

El Deir is 309 miles from Birejik, and is the first 
place with settled dwelling-houses. Up to this time we 
have seen nothing but tents and ruins. 

May 17. — The steamers were hauled over to the 
other side of the river, as we had to take in wood and 

The interior of the town by no means accords with 
its outward aspect. The houses are more like mud 
hovels than human habitations, and so dirty and close 
that they must be unhealthy. The inhabitants, a dirty 
and beggarly set, very unUke the nomadic sons of the 
desert, combine the vices of savages with those of a 
town-bred proletariat, without the benefits of civilisa- 
tion. I saw many countenances of a Jewish cast, with 
more brilUant colour than we have seen amongst the 

We had some trouble in ridding ourselves of their 
importunity. They had to be prevented from climbing 
up the vessel by pointing bayonets at them. 

A few gardens, enclosed by mud walls, contained 
fig, pomegranate, and mulberry trees. Six forlorn 
looking date palms also, were enclosed by a hedge, 
probably the most northerly on the Euphrates. Melan- 
choly as they looked, Pauline and I hailed them as 
precursors of the land of our desires. On low lyiüg 
spots, liable to inundation, melons, maize, and cotton 
are planted, but not till June. 

From an elevated spot, near El Deir, I took a view 
over the boundless, silent plain, and its monotonous 

VOL. I. E 

242 Syria and British Burmah. 

vegetation. A species of Adonis grows luxuriantly 
here and there, intermixed with other desert plants, 
Gnaphalium^ Artemisa, and Carlinea, I saw no sand, 
particularly no sand drift. The soil consists of crumbled 
conglomerate and masses of loose stones, and it is this 
formation which occasions the desolation, for it greedily 
soaks up every drop of water, and the brooks and 
springs, from six to fifteen feet below, never come to 
the surface. 

May 18. — El Deir was hailed by us as the begin- 
ning of settled habitations and cultivation, though of a 
very poor sort. 

We left it to-day, and after surmounting some diffi- 
culties near a mill, got happily out of a side channel 
into the main stream. The water is still rising, and in 
many places overflows both banks. Little fields of 
corn, provided with rough means of irrigation, without 
which nothing can thrive here, and enclosures, in which ' 
the nomadic tribes take up their winter quarters, and 
guard their cattle from wild beasts, give tlie land a 
somewhat cultivated look. 

After a course of two hours and a half we came to 
Karkin, the ancient Circesium, which seems to contain 
many ancient remains. Near here is the mouth of the 
Khdbur, the ancient Araxes, an important river in the 
history of these lands, by which the Emperor Julian 
shipped his fleet into the Tigris. 

In going up it our Tigris got into shallows, from 
which, however, she soon extricated herself. But it 
was not thought advisable for our boat, which draws 
more water, to attempt it ; so we cast anchor two miles 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 243 

lower down, on the Mesopotamian side, where we passed 
a dreadful evening and worse night. Scarcely had the 
sailors and I landed, they to make the anchor fast, and 
I to botanise, than w^e were enveloped in clouds of large 
mosquitos, and although we sprang on board again 
directly, our hands and faces were entirely covered by 
the blood-thirsty creatures, and we could hardly open 
our eyes. The plague spread to the steamer ; all win- 
dows and doors w^ere closed, but the vermin got through 
the smallest chink. Neither anointing ourselves with 
vinegar, oil, or even tar, which the sailors tried, was of 
any use ; there was nothing to be done but to go to 
bed and get under the clothes, w^hich made the heat 

Pauline made a number of bags out of my insect- 
net gauze, which, stretched on wire and put over the 
head, enabled us to go about and to see. Everyone 
thought himself fortunate who had one. 

May 19. — Our station to-day was overgrown with 
tamarisks : a good place for collecting. But the mos- 
quitos nlade it impossible to stay on shore. 

The Tigris, which went ten miles up the Khabiir, 
and found the river deep, but narrow, came back about 
one o'clock ; we went on together to Maden, the first 
Turkish town, where Ibrahim Pacha's rule is at an end. 
It appears that he has not thought it worth while to take 
possession of it; it could not have offered the least 

The Colonel fired a salute of four guns here, to the 
terror of the inhabitants, who, although they live in 
perpetual feuds, had never heard the sound of cannon 


244 Syria and British Burmah. 

before. Our wood was exhausted, and, as there were 
no trees, the people furnished us with fuel at the 
expense of their buildings. They rapidly demohshed 
stables and other structures, pulled the beams out of 
the rubbish, and sold them to us for yellow handker- 
chiefs. On the whole they are obliging and civihsed, 
if the word can be applied to Arabs at all. 

Meanwhile we paid a visit to the ruins of Eahabeh, 
about ^^Q miles off, in a southerly direction. The 
Colonel takes it for Eehoboth ^ of the Ammonites, in 
the times when the Israehtes possessed the river from 
Eacca to Anah. The oldest structures, however, are 
of conglomerate, which easily crumbles away, and the 
more recent are of brick. Completely in ruins it looks 
desolate enough. 

There are said by the inhabitants to have been 
extensive vaults underground, which were still acces- 
sible a few years ago. But we found the entrance 
quite closed up with rubbish. 

The ruins stand upon an isolated hill, the advance 
post of a range, 150 feet high. A boundless table 
land, called the Syrian desert, extends to the west. 

From here all the way to the river there are 
remains of walls and brickwork, which have formed 
mounds in their decay, some of them grown over with 
corn, now just getting green. 

Maden must once have been a considerable town 
between the river and the desert. 

May 20. — To my great satisfaction, we go on to- 
day. We are now rapidly approaching Baghdad, the 

^ Genesis xxxvi. 37. 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 245 

object of my wishes just now, for there I shall hear 
from our friends, the Affghans. I hope to find letters 
from them, and to learn more particulars of our future 
plans of travel. 

We went on at full speed, but did not make much 
progress in a straight line, as the river winds so much. 
The shores, monotonous as before ; on the left a bound- 
less flat, on the Syrian side a range of mountains, now 
some way off, now near the shore. 

We wanted to get on as far as El Kaim, the place 
where the Colonel first navigated the Euphrates, but 
want of fuel obliged us to cast anchor at a place where 
there were tamarisks. While the crew were felhng 
wood, we went, the indefatigable Colonel at our head, 
to see the ruins of a castle on the Syrian shore. We 
were not a little surprised to find, behind a castle of 
oblong form on a precipice, isolated by a ditch, the 
fortified walls of a large town, which, as well as a gate, 
are still standing ; they are built of gypsum. The 
interior is a mass of brickbats and debris^ except the 
foundations of a few large buildings. 

It is difficult to say to what period this remarkable 
place belongs. The regular form of the defences, as 
well as the arches, the construction of which was not 
known till the Eoman period, points to that time. But 
the entire destruction of the masonry inside mdicates 
an ear her time. We find no mention of these ruins, 
and conclude that they have not been discovered by 
any explorers. The natives call them Salahyeh. 

To-morrow we are to make 1 30 miles to Anah ; the 
Colonel wants to make up for lost time. 

246 Syria and British Burmah. 

May 21. — How vain are man's calculations ! how^ 
useless to build on human power and wisdom in a contest 
with the elements ! How powerless we are when opposed 
by those forces of nature, which we think to chain and 
bend to our will. And how terrible to see valued 
friends perish before our eyes in the unequal contest. 

I never thought it possible that I should have to 
record events like those of to-day. We seemed so fully 
justified in considering the favourable issue of the Ex- 
pedition as secure. With two new, carefully constructed 
steamers, commanded by inteUigent men, manned by 
skilful and willing crews, treated everywhere by the 
natives with respect, steaming on the peaceful river — 
who would not have looked forward with confidence to 
this first navigation of it ? And yet in the course of a 
few minutes 'we saw the Tigris go down hopelessly 
before our eyes, and only escaped a like fate ourselves 
by a happy accident. 

We started in good time, and made a rapid course 
for four hours, when, our fuel being exhausted, at eleven 
o'clock, WQ lay to on the left shore, where a quantity 
of wood, which the Arabs readily sold, was taken in. 
During the interval I landed for entomological purposes. 
The sun was unusually clear, but the air very sultry, 
though the temperature was only 23° Eeaumur (84° 

At 1.20 all was ready, and both steamers went on. 
A few minutes afterwards we observed black clouds in 
the north-west, but nothing to alarm us, as it only 
betokened a heavy thunderstorm, such as, unlike this 
climate in general, often occurs about every other day 

With the English Euphrates Expedition, 247 

at this season, ending in torrents of rain. It did not 
seem either as if the clouds were going in our direction. 
A light breeze arose, which caused us to take down the 
awning. Meanwhile the clouds increased every moment 
till the whole sky was darkened. We still hoped to 
outrun the storm ; but the ominous clouds advanced 
with lightning speed, with a most portentous aspect. 
Out of the blue black background, httle detached yellow 
clouds arose, changing their form every instant, and 
forming a semi-transparent vapour in the cloudless 
southern sky. The range of hills in that quarter, 
brightly illumined by the sun, made the darkness on 
the other side all the more conspicuous. 

It was a strange and fearful sight, and we gazed at 
it with awe. But I had no idea that it was the simoom 
of the desert, which often buries whole caravans in sand, 
and that we were in danger of our lives. The mass 
came nearer every moment, and we could plainly see 
the yellow sand of the desert whirhng in the air. 

The steamers were steered towards shore, in order 
if possible, to cast anchor. But it was too late ! The 
hurricane broke over our heads more quickly than the 
words can be spoken, and the clouds of sand wrapped 
us in total darkness. The engines were worked to their 
utmost power. But what is steam power against a 
hurricane ? The Tigris was driven helplessly past us 
at lightning speed, while we were hurled with such 
force by a favouring gust on to the shore four feet hio-h, 
that our timbers creaked and the light planks, intended 
for bulwarks, split like chips. We must have been lost 
if the brave officers and crew had not taken advantasfe 

248 Syria and British Btirmah, 

of the moment, and with incredible exertions cast 
anchor, and secured the steamer in the bay. 

I was standing on deck with my wife who, silent 
and motionless, held fast to the mast, when some one 
called out from below, ' Water in the stern cabin ! ' 

I rushed down stairs, and saw the water streaming 
in at a window shutter, which had been driven in ; I 
contrived to close it by leaning my back against it and 
putting my feet against the wall opposite, until a 
carpenter made it fast. All this occupied but a moment, 
and I hastened on deck again, where I found my wife 
in the same place. 

The waves dashed over our heads and far in on 
shore. During a moment when the storm parted the 
clouds of sand, we saw the Tigris^ scarcely ten minutes 
ahead, apparently standing still, but with her funnel 
bent on one side. Fresh torrents of rain, clouds, and 
mist hid her from us again directly, never to be seen 
more — she was engulfed in the furious waves, leaving 
not a trace behind ! It was all the work of a very few 
minutes. The tornado subsided as quickly as it had 
come on, and bright sunshine lighted up the landscape 
which had just been wrapped in darkness. Our boat 
had shipped a foot of water, and the pumps were 
worked hard to get rid of it. 

As soon as possible Mr. Charlewood, Mr. Ains worth, 
and I jumped on shore ; Pauline followed ; who could 
stay behind when it was a question of saving life ? 
We ran in the direction in which we had last seen the 

Some way off we saw the Colonel, who had that 

With the English Euphi^aies Expedition. 249 

day been on board the Tigris^ with Lieutenant H. B. 
Lynch and Mr. Eden, coming towards us with tottering 
steps ; we hastened to support our friends, who were 
dripping wet. 

The sight of us induced a rapid change in the 
Colonel's countenance ; he was dreadfully exhausted, 
and still more distressed in mind. He thought that the 
Euphrates and all on board were lost too, and as the 
sight of us assured him to the contrary, and he did not 
then know how many of his party had perished in the 
Tigris^ he gave himself up to an ecstasy of joy, which, 
unfortunately, was of very short duration. 

Mr. Ains worth took charge of the exhausted men, 
while we hurried on to find the missing ones. On the 
way we met Mr. Staunton, hardly able to drag himself 
along with the help of some of the English sailors. 
Near the fatal spot we found Dr. Staunton, lying in a 
field of corn, whither he had been hurled by wind and 
waves ; he was still unconscious, and did not know 
what had happened to him. 

In vain we sought for Lieutenants Cockburn and 
K. B. Lynch ; these two, the interpreter, Yussuf Sader, 
fifteen English sailors, and four natives had found a 
watery grave ! 

, The hurricane had struck the Tigris on her broadside, 
and disabled her machinery ; waves, four or five feet 
high, came through the windows into the cabins, and no 
efforts could keep the water cut. When the fore part 
of the deck was under water, and they were only eight 
yards from shore. Lieutenant Lynch declared that the 
vessel was sinking, and gave the word for the crew to 

250 Syria and British Burmah. 

save themselves by swimming. The nearness to the 
shore may have given rise to the hope that they might 
get still nearer, and have caused delay. But, mean- 
while, the boat went down. A minute before the shore 
could be seen, but now there was total darkness, so 
that they could not see which direction to take. Only 
the Colonel, Lieutenant Lynch, and those before men- 
tioned were so happy as to reach land. 

Scarcely eight minutes elapsed between the time 
when the Tigris neared the shore till she began to 
sink, and in less than three minutes more she entirely 

In the hope that some of the missing might still be 
alive and struggling with the waves, boats were sent 
out in all directions, and far along the shore ; they 
returned without success. Even the exact spot where 
the Tigris went down could not be discovered ; not a 
vestige of her was to be seen. 

How shall I describe the feelings of the company 
assembled on the evening of that dreadful day in the 
saloon of the Euphrates. I am not ashamed of the 
tears which I and all the rest shed over our lost friends. 
The sudden and violent death of so many w^ho had be- 
come endeared to us, whom we had seen just before in 
the prime of life and strength, brought forcibly before 
our minds our own powerlessness in conflict with the 
decrees of fate. I had special reason for reverent 
thankfulness to Providence for so manifestly protecting 
me and my wife. For on this day we were to have 
lunched on board the Tigris^ and to have gone on with 
her ; we frequently did so, and it was a change as 

With the Eiiglish Euphrates Expedition. 251 

agreeable to us as to the officers of the Tigris. But^ 
owing to the hurry in taking in wood, the men had not 
found time to bring the boat for us, and, for the same 
reason, Lieutenant Cockburn had missed the opportunity 
of asking leave to make the voyage to-day on board 
the Euphrates. This insignificant circumstance saved 
our hves, but cost him his. He was the only one of 
the officers who could not swim, and he had, in conse- 
quence, a great aversion to the water. A little while 
before, in a moment of ill-humour, he resolved to leave 
the Expedition. Pauline, to whom he mentioned his 
intention, represented to him that it would be very in- 
opportune, and persuaded him to remain ; she was 
therefore all the more grieved at his death. 

May 22. — The grief that had no words yesterday, 
found some expression to-day. Staunton said in a 
scarcely audible voice : ' My poor Cockburn.' Lieu- 
tenant Lynch was heard saying to himself : ' How was 
it possible that my brother, who was such a good 
swimmer, could be drowned ? ' Mr. Eden muttered : 
' Poor Tigris ! so that was to be her fate.' And the 
Colonel said, with a forced smile : ' Wasn't she a pretty 
boat ? But not even a frigate could have stood against 
a storm like that.' 

Besides the loss of life, we all suffer more or less 
from the wreck of the Tigris. Everything not in 
immediate use, and all the stores were on board her. 
Many have lost all their luggage and money, and we 
have but little left but what we had on. 

Lieutenant Lynch is the greatest sufferer. His 
position as commander of the steamer, for the loss of 

252 Syria and British Bur7nah. 

which he is responsible, is very painful ; his pride is 
deeply wounded, his heart is smarting for the loss of 
his brother, and he loses, besides, a considerable sum 
from his private fortune. 

The river and shore have again been searched, 
without finding any trace of the missing men ; there is 
scarcely a bit of floating wood to mark the scene of the 
disaster. At a depth of fiom three to five fathoms, we 
have not once touched the hull of the steamer with 
the lead. 

To-day there was a funeral service for the lost, and 
thanksgiving for the saved, at which no one was un- 

May 23. — The Arabs behave very well ; if they 
had any hostile intentions the last day or two would 
have given them a good opportunity of showing them, 
and even of taking possession of the steamer with all 
its treasures, for several of our crew are away, and the 
rest would not be a match for them. But they not 
only show no hostility, but behave better than 
Europeans on our coasts, who take advantage of the 
customary wreck laws. They bring spars, planks, 
casks, empty boxes, books, and many other things they 
have found, and only ask a backsheesh, which they take 
in the shape of yellow handkerchiefs. One of them 
told us there was a cask he could not lift. The crew 
hoped that it contained rum, but it turned out to be 
only vinegar. Poor fellows, they have now to dispense 
with this luxury. 

May 24. — The hurricane which raged here, only 
extended to a comparatively short distance. Mr. 

Wiik the English Euphrates Expedition. 253 

Hector, who was taking soundings ten miles lower 
down, saw nothing of it. The Arabs tell us that such 
storms occur but seldom. But we have had thunder 
and hail storms to-day, when there were hailstones on 
deck an inch and a half in diameter. All natural 
phenomena here seem to assume a violent aspect. We 
were painfully reminded of the hurricane to-day, when 
two corpses floated down the stream ; they were 
brought to land and buried with military honours. 
Now that all hope is over of finding anyone alive, we 
search for the dead, in order to pay them the last 
tribute of respect. 

The proverb that ' misfortunes never come single,' 
unfortunately holds good in our case. The Colonel 
assembled all the officers to-day, and informed them 
that, when at El Deir, he had received orders from 
Government to close the Expedition on July 31. 
(Motives of economy were assigned for it ; but probably 
some change had taken place in the political constella- 
tions of Europe, so that the connection with India by 
means of the Euphrates no longer appeared necessary 
to the Government, otherwise an expenditure of 
20,000/. w^ould scarcely have been thought so much 
of.) He had not thought it advisable to communicate 
this depressing order to his comrades, and to damp 
their ardour, just as they were making successful pro- 
gress, and had therefore kept it to himself. (How 
heavily this secret must have weighed upon his mind.) 

But now, the Colonel continued, after the loss of the 
Tigris^ a great part of her crew, and the money on 
board her, he felt bound to inform them of it, and to 

254 Syria and British Burmah, 

take the opinion of the officers as to whether they 
should continue the voyage or turn back at once. 

As was to be expected from these energetic men, 
actuated by patriotic ambition, they were all for going 
on, and even renounced their pay to lessen the expenses 
of the Expedition! On the other hand it was deter- 
mined that the remnant of the crew of the 'Tigris' 
should at once return to England, to satisfy the econo- 
mical intentions of the Government. 

This incensed me, though it was certainly in ac- 
CQrdance with the instructions received. These poor 
men, after patiently enduring hard work, privation, and 
sickness, having lost everything and gained nothing, and 
barely escaped with their hves, are to undertake an 
arduous journey through the desert, exposed to all sorts 
of hardships, at this hot season of the year, before the 
end is attained ! 

The rest of the day was occupied in writing reports 
of what has happened. I also wrote mine. 

•St ^ ^ 4t 4t 

^ TP W W TT 

Here ends Heifer's journal of the voyage, so far as 
it escaped destruction ; it falls to my share to add the 

Through Baghdad and Babylon to Basrah. 

We reached Anah without any further disaster. 
The town, once strongly fortified, but now quite open, 
extends for about four miles along the river, and is sur- 
rounded by gardens, in which figs, apricots, pome- 
granates, and plums flourish luxuriantly, and even the 
date palm reaches a considerable height. 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 255 

Three or four hundred paces from tlie town the 
cultivated ground ceases, and a range of chalk hills 
begins, which forms the boundary of the desert. In 
the middle of the river, on a fertile island, there are 
the ruins of a fortress, destroyed by Juhan, and rebuilt 
by the Arabs. After the barrenness along the upper 
part of the course of the river, the trees and beginning 
of regular cultivation were a welcome sight. 

After the Euphrates^ which had sustained great 
injuries, had been repaired, on the 31st of May we con- 
tinued our voyage to Hadisa and Jibba. On both sides 
the banks are well wooded and the land carefully 
irrigated. There is a good depth of water. 

Near Hit we visited the celebrated bitumen springs, 
which are thrown up with extraordinary force, and 
seem to be inexhaustible, as they have been known 
and used from the earliest times. By the Colonel's 
orders the bitumen was used as fuel for our engine, as 
with a mixture of earth it forms a solid mass. 

Under other circumstances, the sulphur mines and 
warm mineral springs might be very profitable to the 
natives. They now make a living chiefly by building 
boats, in which they have attained great celebrity. 

We reached Felujah without obstacle. The heat 
here began to be intolerable. Neither a double awning, 
nor any precautions, sufficed to protect us from it on 
deck, and below, the confined air was so heated that 
sleep was impossible. 

The opportunity, therefore, of leaving the steamer 
for a few days was all the more welcome. Major 
Estcourt was to go to Baghdad to receive money from 

256 Syria and British Burmah. 

the English resident there, and asked us to accompany 
him. The journey was represented to me as very 
arduous, but it was by no means refreshing on board, 
and my curiosity to see Baghdad, the city of so many 
wondrous tales, overcame all hesitation. 

The party consisted of Major Estcourt, Lieutenant 
Murphy, Messrs. Charlewood and Fitzjames, Heifer, 
and myself, with servants and an Arab escort. We 
set out at sunset, badly mounted, for the saddles had 
no stirrups, in order to avail ourselves of the cool of 
the night, hoping to reach Baghdad at daybreak. 

After spending over seven weeks on board ship the 
ride in the moonlight night, with so interesting an end 
in view, seemed like a party of pleasure. Childish 
reminiscences of the fairy tales concerning the city of 
the Khaliphs. about ministering spirits, dwarfs, and en- 
chanted princesses, afforded subject of conversation till 
far into the night. Each looked forward to investi- 
gating the points which interested him most, and to 
comparing reality with fantastic fables. 

But fatigue gradually stole over us, and we went on 
our way in silence, till we were revived by the dawning 
light. The hope of catching sight of the golden 
cupolas of the great mosque made us increase our speed. 
But when the sun at length lighted up the landscape 
there were no golden cupolas nor slender minarets in 
sight, but an immense marsh lay before us as far as the 
eye could reach. The Tigris had overflowed its banks 
and flooded the country for miles, and when it subsided 
it left it a swamp, out of which there was but a narrow 
line of little hillocks distinguishable above the rest. 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 257 

Our anticipations were not a little damped by this 
prospect ; and as, after the long ride, the stomach began 
imperiously to assert its claims, and there was no prospect 
of breakfast, even English stoicism gave way. I had 
taken care of Heifer and myself by taking provisions 
with me ; taught by experience I never went an ex- 
cursion without, in spite of the comments of the Enghsh 
gentlemen, who, however, after a scanty meal at table, 
had often thoroughly relished an Austrian ' Jausen ' ^ in 
my cabin. 

The Enghsh are so accustomed to their regular 
meals that they think it unseemly to take a bit of anv- 
thing between. iJ^ow, however, to my great satisfaction, 
one after another of the gentlemen came up to me with, 
' Mrs. Heifer, havn't you an ^gg left .^ ' And before 
long the demands made upon my saddle-bag, the di- 
mensions of which might have made Sancho Panza 
laugh, had completely emptied it. 

It was soon evident that our exhausted steeds could 
not carry us through the bog ; we had to dismount and 
proceed on foot, jumping, rather than walking, from 
hillock to hillock, and not seldom over the ankles in 
mud. We did not catch sight of Baghdad, on the other 
side of the Tigris, till noon. 

From a little elevation we could see the river, and 
perceived that the ferry-boat, which connects the right 
bank with the city, was just pushing off. In vain we 
made signs that we wanted to cross ; the more our 
Arabs called out to the ferry-men, the more haste they 

1 The term used in Austria for afternoon coffee ; Vespertrod in North 
Germany, a slight meal, eq[uivalent to 5 o'clock tea, — Te. 

VOL. I. S 

258 Syria and British Btcrmak. 

made to get away, and did not moderate their pace till 
they were in the middle of the river. As this was the 
last ferry for the day, there was nothing for it but to 
seek out the driest spot in the soaked ground for the 
night, and do the best we could. So we had to spend 
the night, sleepless and famished, in sight of the won- 
drous city. 

Early next morning an angel of deliverance ap- 
peared. Colonel Taylor, the English Eesident at 
Baghdad, had been told by one of the ferry -men that 
they had seen Europeans in the troop on the other side 
of the river, though we were all in mamaluke costume ; 
and he at once conjectured that they must be members 
of the Expedition who intended visiting Baghdad, for 
he was aware of the approach of the Euphrates. 
But it was already evening ; the gates are not opened 
after sunset ; besides, the ceremonial customs to which 
the English are obliged, for the honour of their country, 
to conform, would not have permitted us to enter 
Baghdad on foot and at night. This was why we were 
not fetched till morning. At the gates we mounted 
splendid horses, ready saddled from the consular stables, 
and with a numerous escort, headed by a kawass with 
the silver staff, we made our solemn entry into the 

■ It was certainly calculated to give us a foretaste of 
the glories of the city of the Khaliphs. 

We were most kindly received by Colonel and Mrs. 

Taylor in their palace. In accordance with Eastern 

.custom, a bath was immediately prepared for everyone, 

for thus to refresh the weary traveller, after the dust 

With the English Euphrates Expedition, 259 

and heat of the desert, is considered the first duty of 
hospitality, a virtue of which Homer sounds the praises. 
Thus revived, we were conducted to the breakfast table, 
spread with delicacies that we had not tasted for a long 
time. But, after two sleepless nights and a sixteen 
hours' ride, I could not keep my eyes open even while 
I was eating, and I found it difficult to adjust the rival 
claims of hunger and fatigue until our amiable hostess 
kindly took charge of me, and gave me a cool and quiet 
chamber where I could rest. 

My slumbers must have been long and deep, for 
when Heifer awoke me the sun had long passed the 

He, on the contrary, seemed scarcely to have rested 
at all. His eyes were fixed upon me with an expression 
of distress. I exclaimed in alarm, ' What is the matter.? 
Whatever has troubled you so ? ' He turned away, and 
answered with faltering voice, ' I can't conceal it from 
you — I have to tell you that our friends, the Affghans, 
are rogues ! ' 

I started up as if stung by an adder. ' For God's 
sake don't say so ! What has happened ? ' ' You shall 
hear,' he said, ' and then judge for yourself. This is 
what I have just learnt from Colonel Taylor. On their 
way to Basrah they passed through Baghdad ; they 
applied to him for money, and in an unseemly way for 
princes of Lahore ; but although he did not feel much 
confidence in them he complied with their request. A 
few days ago a banker at Mosul informed him that he 
had advanced a sum of money to the Affghan princes, 
travelling incognito, on the Eesident's credit, and re- 

s 2 

2 6o Syria and Bidtish Burmah. 

quested payment. Even this,' continued Heifer, ' did 
not shake my faith in our friends, for their funds might 
have been exhausted. I then thought of the jewels, 
which they left us in pledge for our money ' (and of 
which we had brought a few stones with us for the 
purchase of clothing). ' I quickly fetched them, and 
Colonel Taylor, doubting their genuineness, sent for a 
trustworthy jeweller, who, after careful examination, 
pronounced them a clever imitation, by which even 
connoisseurs might have been deceived ! ' 

The pledging of these jewels was then a precon- 
ceived device of these impostors to get possession of 
our money ; it was impossible to doubt any longer. 

Here we were then in remote Baghdad, deprived 
of all our means by the loss of the Tigris^ and but 
scantily provided with clothing. 

I did not venture to try to divine from Heifer's face 
what was passing in his mind. I knew how sincerely 
he liked both these men, and how he had built his 
hopes on them, and w^e bore the painful disappoint- 
ment together in silence. But it was not a time for in- 
dolently giving way to our feelings. Our situation made 
it necessary that we should come to some decision at 
once, and act upon it. 

Once more, here was a momentous crisis. Betrayed 
and left in the lurch by those in reliance on whom we 
had undertaken this long journey, should we proceed 
farther eastward, trusting in ourselves alone, or should 
we turn back half-way, a course alike repugnant to our 
characters and inclinations ? We were both so averse 
to this, our courage and confidence had been so much 

With the English Euphrates Expedition, 261 

strengthened by the good and evil fortune that had be- 
fallen us, that we resolved to go on. Heifer thought it 
would be best to go first to Persia ; thence, he thought, 
we should find some means of getting on to the lofty 
mountain regions of Asia. 

We wished also to take the advice of our experienced 
friends, and joined the company in Mrs. Taylor's draw- 
ing room. Colonel Taylor listened to Heifer's new 
plans, and then said that Persia might serve as a tem- 
porary station, but would never do as a residence for a 
European doctor, as, though the Persians were ready 
enough to avail themselves of his advice, they were not 
in the habit of paying for it. ' First of all, however,' 
he said, ' you want money. If £100 would be sufficient, 
I shall be happy to place it at your disposal.' Heifer 
was extremely surprised, and accepted this unlooked 
for and generous offer with warm thanks. On the sum 
being handed to him he was about to give a promissory 
note. Colonel Taylor, however, said that he did not 
wish any written acknowledgment. ' If you are a man 
of honour,' he added, ' I do not want your note ; if you 
are not, it will be of no use. T will also give you a 
letter of introduction to Captain Hennell, our Eesident 
at Bushire ; you can talk over your residence in Persia 
with him.' 

So the die was cast once more, and we resolved to 
go on by the Euphrates to Basrah, and thence to 
Bushire, in Persia. 

The evening having been pleasantly spent in re* 
lating our various adventures, to which each one con- 
tributed his share, we were conducted to rest, not in 

202 Syida and British Burmah. 

confined bedrooms, but on the flat roof of the house, 
where there were open sleeping apartments divided by 
partitions. Up there, in sight of the stars, in the cool 
night air after the heat of the day, (30° Eeaumur, 
99° Fahrenheit), and its many excitements, we slept 
deliciously. Consoled as to the future, we yielded 
ourselves to repose. 

Of the city as it was in the time of theKhaliphates, 
with its splendid edifices, its palaces, mosques, minarets, 
schools, convents, immense wealth, its extensive khans, 
the famous observatory, the monuments of the saints, 
when learning and chivalry flourished, but little has 
come down to our days. 

Since the dominion of the Khaliphs was overtiurned 
by Halagu Khan in 1258, the population of Baghdad, 
then estimated at 1,000,000, has sunk to 100,000. 
And this devastation and depopulation has been 
brought about, not only by the horrible butchery of 
the various conquerors, that of Timur, for example, in 
1401, who burnt down the city, and ordered each of his 
90,000 soldiers to bring him the head of an inhabitant 
of Baghdad, on pain of losing his own, but by pesti- 
lence and famine, as well as inundations, occasioned by 
neglect of the canals. In 1773, a very large number 
died of the plague. In the absence of registers the 
number could only be estimated by the quantity of 
linen used for winding-sheets. One merchant alone is 
said to have sold 20,000 piastres' worth. 

Its advantageous situation between east and west, 
its numerous products, and flourishing trade, have always 
given the city of the Khaliphs. great political as well as 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 263 

mercantile importance, and have made it a coveted 
prize to every Asiatic conqueror ; and for the same 
reasons it has raised its head again after every 

Baghdad fell by turns into the hands of the Persians 
and the Osmans, until in 1638, under Sultan MuradlV. 
the Turks gained permanent possession of it, and it fell 
under the despotic rule of a pacha. The fate of the 
city and surrounding territory now depended on the 
good or bad qualities of these satraps. The necessity 
of defending themselves against attacks from Persia, 
and internal rebellion, compelled the pachas to main- 
tain a large military force, while the great distance 
from Constantinople made them almost independent of 
the Sublime Porte. 

The legitimate revenues of the w^ealthy pachalic are 
very considerable, but have been greatly increased by 
arbitrary exactions ; yet they have often not sufficed 
for war expenses, and the luxurious extravagance of 
the rulers ; and when some of the neighbouring Arab 
tribes have refused to pay tribute, and have had to be 
compelled to obedience, the governors have often been 
obliged to borrow money of the wealthy merchants. 

But, in spite of injustice and extortions, the trade of 
Baghdad has greatly increased diu-ing the last fe^v 
years ; after the East India Company established a 
consulate there, the exports by way of Basrah to India 
became very considerable. The Enghsh consuls took 
the rank of Asiatic princes, and soon gained an in- 
fluence equal to that of the reigning pacha, and their 
opinion was so much valued on all matters of import- 

264 Syria and British Burmah. 

ance, that the Turkish officials did not deem it advisable 
to undertake anything without a previous understand- 
ing with them. To maintain this influence and the 
dignity of the British nation the East India Company 
expended large sums. 

The consul's residence is on the most magnificent 
scale. It comprises two courts, a large number of 
splendid apartments, massively built terraces for sleep- 
ing in the open air serdaps (vaulted chambers half 
below and half above ground, with galleries on the 
river side, used in the hot season), government offices, 
stables, and domestic offices. It houses a numerous 
retinue of servants, each one, after Indian fashion, 
having one special duty to perform, and presenting a 
curious medley of nations and languages — secretaries, 
interpreters, medical men, janissaries, and a company 
of sepoys, as a body-guard, who go on duty with 
military music and honours, and accompany the Eesi- 
dent on all ceremonial occasions. An elegant yacht, 
manned by Indian sailors, lies always in readiness at 
the palace quay, and the stables contain splendid 
horses. All this splendour, however, though at first 
it dazzles the eye and pleases the fancy, is rather op- 
pressive to the stranger ; the palace, with all its luxury, 
seems to him like a prison, from which the sooner he 
can make his escape the better. 

The dignity of the British nation does not permit 
her sons to soil their feet with the dust of Baghdad, nor 
to show themselves in public without appropriate state. 
This precluded our perambulating the city and seeing 
its sights in tourist fashion. 

With the E7ighsh Euphrates Expedition. 265 

It was only from the highest pinnacle of the house 
that there was a view over the city and its suburbs. 
The extent of the walls still standing, and the number 
of fine buildings in ruins, gave us an idea of its former 
greatness and grandeur. 

J^othing now remains of the luxuriant gardens on 
the shores of the Tigris, with their palm-groves, pome- 
granate, apricot, peach, mulberry, and lemon trees, and 
handsome flowering shrubs, nor of the fields of wheat, 
rice, and maize, which once made Baghdad one of the 
most favoured spots on earth. All this is replaced by 
a swampy waste. The interior of the city has nothing 
to show but dirty, narrow, winding streets, with high, 
gloomy, windowless houses. 

The ladies of Baghdad pay frequent visits to the 
baths, mounted on proud white palfreys, or modest 
asses, according to their rank and wealth. The baths 
are the sole places of amusement for Asiatic women, 
and there the richest attire is displayed and the gossip 
of the city discussed. They parade the streets with 
a stately retinue, muffled up in thick white shawls, 
which only permit their dark eyes and yellow slippers 
to be seen ; or they pay visits on the roofs of the 
houses, which are reached by little staircases permit- 
ting free communication, and it is said that they are 
also used by the male inhabitants for secret assigna- 

Mrs. Taylor offered to take me to the Pacha's 
seraglio, and to introduce me to his two lawful wives. 

Equipped with the customary state, we reached the 
palace, and were received with all the ceremonial due 

266 Syria and British Btirmah. 

to the consul's wife. We were conducted through a 
suite of large rooms, all richly adorned with gilding and 
carpets, but anything but clean, to a smaller apart- 
ment more in European style. A lady, about forty 
years of age, whose face still bore traces of former 
beauty, was lying on a sofa with side rests. Her eye- 
brows, lashes, and lids were blackened, her finger nails 
dyed red ; neck and bosom were enveloped in a costly 
shawl, and she was adorned with gold chams, rings, and 
bracelets. I should not have thought it possible that 
anyone would adopt the position she assumed while 
receiving a call, if I had not seen it with my own eyes. 
As she lay upon the couch her legs from the knees 
dangled over the side. Whether it was the correct 
mode of receiving company, or was done for exercise, 
I could not discover. Mrs. Taylor seemed to be used 
to it, and took no notice of it ; it was maintained while, 
with friendly nods, she gave this lady her hand, 
and while, widi all due form, I was introduced. The 
princess was prepared for our call and for my disguise, 
only vouchsafed me a scrutinising glance, and then 
entered into lively discourse with Mrs. Taylor about 
the events of the day and the mysteries of the seraglio, 
which unfortunately was all unintelligible to me. Hav- 
ing assumed, according to our notions, a more decent 
attitude, and coffee having, as usual, been handed, she 
asked us to sro and see her beautiful daughter. We 
went at once, and a charming creature she was, a rose- 
bud in the first blush of beauty ; she had a delicate 
complexion, timid blue eyes, light brown hair, and a 
sweet simple expression of countenance, quite a contrast 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 267 

to the Armenian beauties with their set and regular 
features. She reminded me more of a pretty European 
girl than any other Asiatic I had seen. 

She advanced pleasantly to meet us ; but on seeing 
me, she blushed deeply and cast her eyes on the ground. 
Mrs. Taylor hastened to explain ; she then cast timid 
glances at me, and it was only by degrees that she took 
courage to look at me openly, to give me her hand and 
lead me to the soft cushions of the divan. 

The princess was surrounded by ten companions, 
mostly Circassians, all more or less beautiful. The 
black hair of some of them was dyed red, w^hich is 
considered very handsome here, and there is certainly 
something piquant in the gold shimmer on the 
dark ground. There was also a blonde beauty among 
them, with an almost German physiognomy, who seemed 
to be a general favourite. 

While the princess sat on the divan, her youthful 
companions danced before us, in picturesque figures, to 
the music of a tambourine, and displayed much grace 
and agility ; it was rather a variety of pantomimic 
attitudes than a dance. Before long, one of them, 
apparently tired, sat down at her mistress's feet, a 
second followed, and laid her head on the other's lap, 
who took down her long thick hair and arranged it 
anew ; then both sprang up and rejoined the rest, 
giving a new turn to the game. 

This, I was told, is about the only occupation, daily 
repeated, of young girls, until they are given to husbands 
unknown and unloved. 

We could not linger long over this pretty sight, as 

268 Syria and British Btcr^nak. 

Mrs. Taylor wished also to call on the Pacha's younger 
wife. She was quite young, a brunette, neither beauti- 
ful nor ugly, with rather strongly marked features, 
much embonpoint^ and a determined expression. She 
was energetically rocking a covered cradle when we 
entered. She seemed much honoiu-ed by Mrs. Taylor's 
visit, and out of respect for my companion paid more 
attention to me. In the course of conversation, Mrs. 
Taylor mentioned that we had just seen the princess, 
and that I thought her very beautiful. She hastily 
withdrew the cover of the cradle, and exhibiting her 
baby of a few months old, exclaimed eagerly : ' Say if 
this one will not be much more beautiful ! ' Of course 
we pacified her by solemn assurances of her daughter's 
future incomparable beauty : another instance of the 
predominance of maternal love over every other feeling 
among Asiatic women. 

We all assembled for the social tea hour in the 
cool and spacious serdap of the consular palace. Each 
one narrated some interesting episode from his life. Our 
hospitable host and hostess gave us an account of what 
they had gone through a few years before, during the 
prevalence of the plague, drought, and famine, in 
1830-31. The plague broke out, in the autumn of 
1830, in the villages round, and, like a destroying angel, 
drew nearer and nearer to the city, striking down 
everyone by the way. The Mollahs set themselves 
against all measures to arrest it, as being opposed to 
the Koran. Colonel Taylor used all his influence with 
the. fatalistic Daoud Pacha to induce him to establish 
quarantine, but in vain. He received the true Turkish 

With the Eiiglish Euphrates Expedition. 269 

answer : ' He who is to die will die, and lie who is to 
live will live.' The daily deaths were soon reckoned, 
not by units, but by hundreds and thousands. The 
consulate did not escape, though strictly isolated, for 
if infection was not brought by human beings, domestic 
animals, especially cats, carried it from house to house. 

At the same time the Tigris overflowed its banks, 
broke all the dams, flooded the lowlands, destroyed 
several thousand houses, and all prospects of a good 
harvest, so that a fearful famine ensued. 

By the spring of 1831 the number of deaths was 
estimated at from fifty to sixty thousand. Children 
who had lost or were forsaken by their parents lay 
about the streets in a state of starvation ; all family ties 
were loosened, all who could do so fled, without thought 
of those whom they left to perish. 

To crown all these troubles wild hordes of Arabs 
took advantage of the defenceless state of the city to 
plunder it. The scenes of horror that ensued are best 
left untold. Let us rather linger over a ray of hght in 
the darkness. This is afforded by the Christian heroism 
and self-sacrifice of Mr. Groves, the superintendent of 
the English mission, w^ho, actuated by motives of duty 
and philanthropy, devoted himself to nursing the sick 
and comforting the neglected and perishing. 

Colonel Taylor for a long time courageously braved 
the danger ; but when his palace was flooded he re- 
solved to leave Baghdad and to go down the river in 
his yacht to his country house at Basrah. In vain he 
tried to persuade Mr. Groves and his family to accom- 
pany him. He would not neglect his Chiistian mission 

270 Syria and British Burmah. 

for a moment, and, besides his wife and children, »several 
teachers, and Christian servants, remained in the sorely 
tried city, intent on feeding the hungry and caring for 
orphan children, as far as was in their power. lie 
succeeded in rescuing many of the most destitute, many 
others were at least helped and consoled. He hoped 
that his family might be spared to him, as \h^ pesti- 
lence was abating ; but at last it entered his house and 
snatched away his wife and children and faithful assist- 
ants. When Colonel Taylor returned to the city, after 
health was restored to it, he found Mr. Groves, who was 
left alone of all his family, mourning over their graves. 

Priestly fanaticism, and the avarice, ignorance, and 
indolence of the people, had all combined to produce 
this state of things. 

Heifer was very glad that the departure of a Tatar 
in the evening for Constantinople enabled him to com- 
mission his lawyer in Prague to repay Colonel Taylor's 
loan through a London banker ; for we had to leave 
the hospitable palace very early next morning on our 

Fine horses from the palace stables were placed at 
our disposal : a splendid white creature, with Ho wing 
mane and tail, was brought out for me, and he pawed 
the ground impatiently till we should start. I feared 
that I should not be able to manage so spirited an 
animal, and asked for another. But Colonel Taylor 
himself encouraged me to mount, and said that then it 
would be all right ; and I was scarcely in the saddle 
when he became as gentle as a lamb, and obeyed the 
least movement of the bridle, so that the long ride was 

With the Ejiglish Euphrates Expedition, 271 

a real pleasure. This is the peculiarity of Arab horses, 
from growing up with human beings as playmates. 

Owing to Colonel Chesney's haste to reach Basrah, 
the end of the voyage, we were unable to visit the ruins 
of Tak-i-Kesra and the ancient Seleucia, about eleven 
miles below Baghdad, on the Tigris. From their extent 
and magnificence they were taken by earlier travellers 
for the ruins of Babylon. The castle of Tak-i-Kesra, as 
the Arabs call it, is said to be equal to any of the 
Oriental edifices in size and splendour. Its facade, 
360 feet in length, and its splendid portico, is said to 
exceed even the famous gate of the palace at Delhi, and 
Ali Kaper at Ispahan. 

When Abu-Giafar-al-Mansor, the second of the 
Khaliphs, in 775, wanted to build a palace in the centre 
of his empire, he chose the province of Chaldea, and 
the spot on the Tigris, on which the descendants of 
Nimrod and Nushirwan, the wife of Kosroes, had built 
a sanctuary, called the heart of the earth, the key of 
the East, and the path of light. He used the edifices of 
Seleucia as materials for building his capital, Baghdad. 
Fortunately for the preservation of these ancient monu- 
ments, it proved that the expense of demolishing them 
and removing the materials would exceed their value, 
and so they were suffered to stand. 

We had to take the shortest way to the ruins of 
Babylon, as Colonel Chesney, with the steamer, was to 
await us there. 

When the extensive gardens and plantations of date 
palms on the west side of Baghdad are left behind, an 
imcultivated plain opens before you, generally afford- 

272 Syria and British Burmah. 

ing firm footing, but now wet and marshy in places 
A road leads across it, cliiefly frequented by the Shiites 
on their pilgrimages to the grave of Imam Hussein. 
The pilgrims not only perform their devotions at the 
shrine of their saint, but bury their dead, who are 
special objects of affection, in the consecrated ground 
there, for which they pay a high price. On this road, 
therefore, large caravans of wealthy Persians are often 
met with, accompanied by their closely veiled women, 
and a numerous retinue of their dead, enclosed in cof- 
fins, and borne on mules to the place of holy sepulture. 
Although the bodies are embalmed, they emit odours 
in the glowing heat as disgusting as they are injurious. 
But the hope of securing everlasting happiness for their 
beloved departed friends, by laying their bones in the 
consecrated ground of the followers of Ali, encourages 
the pilgrims to brave every difficulty and danger. 

Alonor the whole route there are scattered remains 
of ruined brick buildings, melancholy evidence that at 
one time, between Baghdad and ' Babylon, the glory of 
kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency,' as 
it is called by Isaiah,^ there was an unbroken fine of 
habitations, villages, and palaces. Now there is nothing 
to be seen but a few wells and isolated khans. The 
latter have been mostly built by wealthy Persian 
families for the benefit of pilgrims, some of them like 
castles, as if for defence ; they afford the traveller com- 
fortable shelter, and a good meal of fowls, eggs, dates, 
bread, and sweet lemons. 

Late in the evening of the first day we reached the 
Iskenderiyah Khan, and, after another long day's ride, 

^ Isaiah xiii. 19. 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 273 

the Mahawit Khan, where we took up our night 
quarters, in order to reach the ruins of Babylon early 
on the third day, which we were to be allowed a day 
to visit. 

The nearer we approached to the Euphrates the 
more luxuriant grew the grass, so that it was often up 
to the horses' knees. Horses, herds of sheep and oxen 
were grazing on the plain, and the black tents of the 
Arabs were seen in all directions. A line of waving 
date palms in the distance marked the winding course 
of the river. The loneliness we had felt in passing 
through this desolate region now gave way to the con- 
sciousness that we were nearing the habitations of men. 

Near the former boundaries of mighty Babylon we 
had to cross several of the ancient canals which inter- 
sected the country, and served both to irrigate the fields, 
which they rendered very fruitful, and as part of the 
system of fortification of the city : they were for the 
most part navigable. Their beds are now mostly dry, 
while the river has made the land a marsh far and wide. 
There was, however, so much water in two of them that 
the horses had to swim over with us, which gave me 
fresh occasion to admire my steed. 

We were now at the foot of the Mujellebeh, the 
ancient impregnable citadel of Babylon, now an ex- 
tensive bare hill 150 feet high. It forms the beginning 
of a scene of desolation, extending further than the eye 
can reach. 

We went round the Mujellebeh in order to ascend 
the Kasr in the centre, the royal palace, with the hang- 
ing gardens of Semiramis. From the summit you can 

VOL. I. T 

2 74 Syria and British Burmah. 

see the whole extent of the city, built in the form of a 
square, the four sides together forming an extent of 
thirty-four miles, and enclosing a space of seventy-two 
square miles. 

Towards the south lies the hill called Amran, the 
lowest but most extensive of all, bounded on the south 
by the date gardens of Hillah ; towards the north- 
east is the conical shaped mound of ruins called 
Tabaia, about seven miles from Hillah ; towards the 
east the lofty and apparently isolated Al Huisrer. 

The traveller's admiration is not called forth here 
by magnificent ruins of splendid edifices, such as 
Palmyra and Nineveh can show. It is the immensity 
of the destruction which fills the mind with awe. 

What colossal structures must have stood here, if 
their fall could produce such masses of ruins. For all 
these hills, from top to bottom, consist of nothing but 
bricks, many of which, after the lapse of 4,000 years, 
retain a blue glaze and inscriptions or imprints of 

Far to the south-west, almost on the edge of the 
desert, nine miles from the river, is Birs Nimrod, the 
most ancient and venerable ruin in the world ; seen 
from the King's hill, it rises like a needle's point out of 
the ruins around. 

In the midst of all this weird desolation the broad 
river pursues its course unchanged. A few stunted 
willows, descendants of those beneath whose shade the 
children of Israel sang their laments, stand mourning 
by the shore. 

Overpowered by the spectacle and the recollections 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 275 

of past ages, we lingered long on the spot where 
Semiramis wandered in her palace gardens forming 
fresh schemes for the aggrandisement of her empire, 
and the defence of the proud city ; where Judah 
languished m captivity, and bewailed his hard fate ; 
where Alexander, after conquering the world, and 
intoxicated with victory, defied the gods by beginning 
to rebuild the tower of Belus, which had been destroyed 
by fire from heaven, and where, not long after, he was 
overtaken by sickness, and succumbed to the lot of 
mortals in the midst of his bold projects. 

This spot is said to be condemned by a wrathful 
God to eternal desolation and sterility. But not so ; 
the Lord does not thus curse the ground and keep his 
anger for ever. Nothing has happened here but one of 
those vicissitudes to which all earthly things are subject. 
Nations, having reached the degree of civihsation of 
which they were capable, have perished ; the measure 
of it to which they had attained was transferred to 
other nations, who brought it to greater perfection, and 
again transmitted it to others. 

The ground is not condemned to sterihty ; luxuriant 
grass springs up, having been manured with refuse, and 
afibrds pasture for numerous flocks. The works of 
man have indeed been the victims of man's passions ; 
but what man has destroyed man can rebuild, better 
and more in accord with the spirit of the age. And 
here, on the shores of the fructifying Euphrates, civili- 
sation will flourish anew ; no second Babylon will be 
built, but perhaps a seat of culture, peaceful inter- 
course and prosoerity may be. This rich country is 

T 2 

276 Syria and B 7^1 lis k Bttrmah, 

too near over-peopled Europe, the desire among the 
followers of Mahomet themselves to revise their 
political and social life is too strong for it long to 
remain closed against European civilisation. 

Were we not justified in entertaining these hopes, 
when we behold the British flag, w^hich has conferred 
the blessings of civilisation on so many nations, floating 
over the river ? How could we fail to see the dawn of 
a day of promise in this first attempt to navigate the 
Euphrates by steam power ? Could we fail to hope 
that the memory of the men whose lives were sacrificed 
in it will one day be blessed by nations whom it has 
dehvered from the cruel bondage of ignorance ? 

We descended in silence from the King's hill, each 
of us given up to his own reflections. It is easy to 
philosophise over the instability of all earthly things 
when surrounded by fresh and blooming life ; but it is 
otherwise when there is nought but death and destruc- 
tion before your eyes. You are struck dumb, and cast 
your eyes upon the ground with a profound feeling of 
your own insignificance. All your hopes and fears, 
your toil and endeavour, your loves and hatreds, your 
pride and ambition, dwindle into nothingness in view of 
such awful destruction. 

The shades of evening were closing round us when 
we went on board the steamer and received a joyous 
welcome from our fellow voyagers. Though our 
absence had been but short, and our excursion not a 
perilous one, under the circumstances, our safe return 
was hailed with joy. Our adventures were listened to 
with eager interest and sympathy, especially the painful 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 277 

disappointment which Heifer and 1 had experienced at 
Baghdad, and all were glad that we were not too much 
disheartened by it to continue our journey. 

Early next morning we reached Hillah, a flourish- 
ing mercantile town at the southern extremity of the 
district of Babylon. We cast anchor on the right shore, 
from which Birs ISTimrod is seen towering up majesti- 
cally in the distance. Unfortunately, I was unable to 
join the party who made an excursion to it, the exer- 
tions of the previous few days having enjoined rest. 
I could only form an idea of it from the reports of our 
party and the descriptions of former travellers. 

The extensive mound of ruins, having a circum- 
ference of 762 yards, which forms a pedestal for the 
square pyramid of Belus, as it is called by Strabo, is 
three or four miles from Hillah. The eastern side of 
the mound rises in two platforms, 450 feet broad. 
Towards the west it rises, in the form of a dome, to a 
height of 200 feet ; on the summit is a single pillar of 
excellent construction, still standing erect, but rent 
from top to bottom, the only remaining monument of 
ancient ornamental architecture in this region. 

The tower of Belus of the Chaldeans is built with 
eight large platforms, reached by outside flights of steps, 
on which were resting places and seats. In the top 
was the throne, with the golden table and pedestals, 
long ago robbed of their statues. This was the great 
sanctuary of Bel, probably built before the time of 
Nebuchadnezzar, and at the same time the observatory 
of the astrologers of Chaldea. 

This colossal structure has bidden defiance to time, 

278 Syria and British Burmah. 

and althougli the upper half, with the statues of deities, 
was in ruins in the time of Cyrus and Xerxes, Alexan- 
der the Great, according to Arrian, was so struck with 
its imposing grandeur and the wisdom of the Chaldean 
astrologers, that, after his victorious return from India, 
he resolved to restore it in all its magnificence. But 
the 10,000 labourers employed could not, during two 
months, remove the rubbish accumulated by the 
destruction caused by Xerxes, nor bring the original 
foundations to light. Meanwhile the conqueror w^as 
smitten by death, and its restoration has never since 
been attempted. 

At some distance from this edifice, there is a group 
of mounds of ruins, not so high as the pedestal of the 
tower, but much broader, being 414 feet in diameter. 
Here, according to Herodotus, stood the great altar of 
Belus, belonging to the tower, on which the animals 
were sacrificed, and on which, at great festivals, incense 
was burnt to the value of 1,000 talents. 

As before stated, all these mounds are composed of 
ruins of masonry built of bricks, on which inscriptions 
are often found. On the top there are gigantic masses, 
w^hich must have fallen from great heights, and have 
gradually crumbled away ; some of them still exhibit 
bright dark-blue colours, or are veined with yellow, the 
colour having been preserved by their having been 
melted or glazed. Both ancient and modern explorers 
ascribe this to the destruction by fire from heaven, 
in accordance with the ancient legend, 

There are various legends about this destruction, 
but all concur in considering it a divine punishment for 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 279 

man's audacity. Mebuhr's Arab guide told him, when 
he visited the ruins, that a king of the name of Nimrod 
built the palace ; during a thunder storm, intending to 
wage war with God, he shot an arrow into the air, and, 
exhibiting a bloody arrow, boasted that he had wounded 
God. He was punished by being stung to death by 
insects, and his palace was destroyed by fire. 

Our departure from Hillah, in spite of the friendly 
intercourse which we had had with the natives, was not 
to take place in peace. Without any reason that we 
knew of, the crowds on shore, many of whom had 
visited the steamer, suddenly assumed a threatening 
aspect ; others pointed long guns at us from the roofs 
of the houses on both sides of the river. They refused 
to open the bridge, which they had before readily 
agreed to do, in order to prevent the steamer, of the 
power of which they had no idea, from going on, or in 
the intention of making a formal attack. 

All attempts at an understanding were fruitless, as 
well as threats that we would force our passage through ; 
shots, which fortunately did not hit anyone, were the 
only response. There was considerable delay, till the 
Colonel was convinced that words were useless, and 
that he must teach these ignorant people better by pro- 
ceeding to deeds. He gave orders to go on with full 
steam on, and break the slender ropes by which the 
boats were fastened. Officers and crew had been im- 
patiently waiting for this. With stentorian voice the 
Commander called out from the paddle wheel into the 
engine room : ' Go on with full speed ! ' and ' with full 
speed' was echoed from below. In an instant the 

28o Syria and British Burmah. 

steamer passed through the bridge, scattering the hght 
pontoons hke spray, to the astonishment and terror of 
the gaping crowd, whose corn-age and threats it at once 
put an end to. To give them a still greater idea of the 
defensive powers of the steamer, as well as a proof of 
the magnanimity and friendly feeling of the English, a 
few thundering cannon shots were fired into the air. 
The inhabitants gazed long after us in amazement, 
perhaps puzzling their brains to discover how the 
beautiful boat could thus escape their hands. 

On the same day, June 11, we glided down between 
date palms, without obstacle, to Dewanyeh, a town of a 
few thousand inhabitants, the limit of the pachalic of 

The town is surrounded by a wall of earth sur- 
mounted by towers. There were numerous boats of 
various sizes on the river, by means of which an active 
trade is carried on, and many wares are conveyed to 
the bazaar. 

The Pacha of Baghdad keeps a strong garrison here, 
partly to defend the town, partly to keep the refractory 
Arabs in order. Wellsted relates of these Agyl Arabs 
that they fought in the conquest of Spain, and have 
preserved traditions of that heroic period. 

The existence of lions about here, which we had 
doubted, was confirmed, for we saw unmistakable im- 
prints of their great paws on the shore. The crew saw 
many of their footprints while felling wood, but no 
lions. They rest by day in the thickets and go out by 
night to plunder or to drink. We heard them roaring 
at night, on board, which dispelled all doubts about 
their proximity. 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 281 

It made me anxious about Heifer, who, never think- 
ing of anything but his researches, always landed directly 
we stopped. My exhortations to prudence were disre- 
garded ; he only laughed, and said that in this respect 
he had become a true Turk. This only made me more 
anxious, and I resolved never to leave him, in order to 
compel him to caution by my presence. 

I was full of these thoughts when, on June 13, 
we anchored at the town of i^ew Lamlum. Up 
to this time the shores had been clothed with um- 
brageous date palms. Numerous settlements of agri- 
cultural Arabs are seen amongst the underw^ood, and 
give the idea of a considerable population. 

The Euphrates here divides into several branches, 
and the low lying lands are under water during a great 
part of the year. This region reminded me of the 
Spreewald at home ; numerous flocks, of which the 
wealth of the population consists, find pasture there as 
here, only here the dirty-grey buffalo lifts his ponderous 
limbs out of the bogs, while in the rich meadows of the 
Spree the sleek red cattle luxuriate. 

This part of the Euphrates country is inhabited by 
the Khezail Arabs. Their huts of reeds and mud 
covered with mats stand on little hillocks in the marsh ; 
they are liable to inundations, and are not seldom carried 
away, if the inhabitants are not sufficiently alert in 
getting the hut and its contents removed into safety on 
the backs of buffaloes or swimming oxen. If these are 
not at hand, the women fasten a bundle of reeds under 
their bodies, and swim across the water with an infant 
in their arms, while the elder children swim after them. 

282 Syria and British Bunnah. 

But as often as the floods wash away their huts, 
they always build again on the same spots. They are 
really amphibious, for they live as much on water as on 
land, and being so constantly in the water and marshes 
seems to have a decisive efi'ect on their build, for their 
limbs are so long and thin that when you see them 
wading about you would think they were on stilts. 

The main arm of the river is only 100 to 150 feet 
wide, and navigation was much impeded by a multitude 
of small boats, in which the inhabitants paddle about 
from house to house with great dexterity. 

We had hardly landed when the people crowded 
round us, and a brisk trade began, which, welcome as 
it had been in other places, made us fear here that it 
would excite the natives' cupidity. Colonel Chesney 
knew them to be arrant thieves, fi'om having been here 
in 1831, particularly the Shiahs, a Shiitic tribe of Per- 
sian origin, who have preserved many characteristics 
of their forefathers, and are said to be much given to 
plunder, although they are diligent agriculturists. 
During the night, therefore, there were guards ap- 
pointed on board, as well as on shore, to keep off 
unbidden guests. 

The stifling heat in the cabins made the nights a 
torment ; sleep was out of the question. We had, 
therefore, for several nights slept on deck. With all 
our clothes on, and wrapped, heads and all, in Hnen 
sheets to protect ourselves from mosquitoes, and oiu: 
eyes from the bright moonlight, we lay on the narrow 
cabin mattresses, and thus found the longed-for rest. 
That night my imagination had been excited by tracks 

With the English Etiphi^ates Expedition. 283 

of lions having been seen, and I dreamt about them. 
All at once it seemed to me that a hon was seizing me 
with his four paws and dragging me away. I could 
not disentangle myself from the folds of the sheet, and 
called out, ' a lion, a lion ! ' Heifer awoke, but swathed 
up in like manner he could not tell for a moment what 
was going on. He grasped my arm, still I was dragged 
farther towards the edge of the deck, not yet provided 
with any balustrade. Just then a shot was heard, then 
another, I heard a splash into the water, I was released. 
It was all the work of a few minutes, the whole crew 
were alarmed, and were by our sides. JSTo one could 
account for the incident till Major Estcourt, who had 
spent the night on shore, came on board, and told us 
that a robber Schiah had tried to steal his clothes from 
under his head ; it had awoke him ; he had shot at him, 
and then fired at another thief whom he thought he 
saw on board. But there was no trace of a lion. My 
assurance that there had been one, and that he had 
begun to drag me off, was of course ascribed to a lively 
imagination, in spite of my assertion that he had sprung 
upon me, and that I still felt the clutch of his claws. 
Ashamed of having been caught in this weakness I held 
my peace, until daylight solved the mystery, and relieved 
me of my mortification. 

It appeared that one of these amphibious Arabs had 
got on board, in spite of the watch, probably imder 
water, and through one of the cabin windows. He had 
stolen a chronometer, pulled about everything of a 
glittering nature, and tried to get hold of it. Alarmed 
by the shot on shore, he must have rushed up the cabin 

284 Syria and British Burmali. 

stairs, and probably tried to jump into the water from 
just the spot where I was lying. In doing this, not 
being able to see me, he must have fallen upon me 
with hands and feet, got entangled in the sheet, and 
so pulled me along with him. But he even exercised 
his thieving propensities in this hasty flight, and stole 
Mr. Fitzjames's tarbush. So, though there had been no 
lion, there had been something which it was no wonder 
that at the moment I took for one, and my cries for 
help were justified. 

After the chronometer had been restored, on our 
energetic remonstrances to the sheikh, and proper 
respect impressed on the robber crew, on June 16, 
we left this singular place with its queer inhabi- 
tants, who stood in crowds on the shore, and watched 
the movements of the steamer with astonishment and 
awe. Lower down we saw numerous huts, mostly 
under the shade of date palms, which grow in groups 
here. In the low lying lands there are rice fields 
yielding a hundredfold. 

Unfortunately, among the many branches of the 
river, forming quite a network of channels, we took the 
wrong one, and after a voyage of some hours got 
aground. When we got off next morning we had to 
go back, in order to get into the right channel, near the 
village of Barblyah ; after this we went on without any 

In our rapid course we passed many ruins of forti- 
fied castles and large towns, of which we could learn 
nothing but the names. Among these, Irak-Jakal-el- 
Assayah, the Erech of the Bible, is said to be one of 
the most ancient. 

With the English Euphrates Expedition, 285 

ISFear El Khiidhr, a large village of the Beni-Hakem, 
we came to a poplar wood, which promised to supply 
us with fuel as far as Basrah. The villagers were 
wilhng to fell it, and, incited by the promise of good 
pay, went to work at once. But the next day they 
showed unaccountable ill-humour, and could not be 
induced to work any more. 

While Lieutenant Murphy had been taking obser- 
vations in the castle of El Khudhr, and Mr. Ains worth 
and Heifer were in the wood, we observed great excite- 
ment amongst the Arabs. They were evidently con- 
spiring against us, sending messengers in various di- 
rections, probably to call upon their alhes for help, and 
began a war dance, with wild cries, swinginp- their 
guns high into the air. 

When asked through our interpreter, Seyd Ali, 
what was the reason of this conduct, they gave no 
satisfactory answer, but called the foreigners cowardly 
dogs, and threatened to butcher us all. They also 
threatened to capture those of our party who were on 
shore, but they were safely escorted on board by the 
Colonel and some of the crew. 

The number and fury of the wild figures in the 
wood were continually increasing, we could hear their 
cries and insults on board. For our own safety, and to 
keep up our dignity, we had to avoid all signs of fear. 
For this reason, and in the hope of coming to an under- 
standing, the Colonel had the steamer steered nearer to 
the wood. She was greeted with a shower of shot, 
which happily wounded no one, though the Colonel 
was in a very exposed place. Still he hesitated to 

286 Syria and British Bttrmah, 

return hostilities, though all longed to avenge the insult ; 
but as the wild horde went on firing, a broadside of 
grape and canister was fired into the wood, and as this 
did not silence them, a second. The effect was fearful, 
as I could see from our cabin window. Mr. Fitzjames 
had taken me there by the Colonel's orders, when the 
fight began, while Heifer kept his place on deck. How 
many were killed and buried under the falling trees we 
could not discover ; but we could see that only a 
minority of the war dancers saved themselves by flight. 
There had also been some firing from an old castle 
on the opposite shore, but a few rockets sufiiced to 
drive away the foe. 

This was the only time that actual hostilities 
occurred during the long voyage through a country 
inhabited by a wild quarrelsome race. We afterwards 
learnt that they were caused by our cutting down trees 
in what the Shiites considered a sacred grove. 

Without any further disturbance, we passed through 
the main stream, which had become wide and deep by 
the influx of several canals, to the flourishing com- 
mercial city of Sheikh-el-Schuyukh. It is inhabited by 
the Montefek Arabs, a powerful tribe. We saw their 
well-built vio^orous forms, not so dark as those we had 
seen before, moving about almost naked amongst rose 
bushes, fig and pomegranate trees. 

Their chief occupation is breeding horses, in which 
they are so successful that they supply the English in 
India with the best race horses. They live chiefly on 
camel's flesh, and only cultivate rice and practise 
agriculture when compelled to it by the Pacha of 

With the E7iglish Euphrates Expedition. 287 

Baghdad. But they often shake off his yoke and 
domineer over the neighbouring tribes ; they even 
sometimes venture as far as the gates of Baghdad. 
Their chief assumes the title of Sheikh-el-Muscheik, 
Sheikh of the Sheikhs. 

In time of war the Sheikh's power is unlimited, but 
is not great in time of peace, when his chief duty is 
hospitality. When Captain Wellsted was the guest of 
Sheikh Agyl Ibu Mahomed, he kept open table daily 
for 300 to 400 guests. Thirty or forty slaves were con- 
stantly employed in grinding coffee. It is in hospitality 
hke this that the Sheihk seeks renown, while he him- 
self generally hves an extremely frugal life. 

It is a difficult task for the Pacha of Baghdad to 
maintain his authority over those powerful vassals 
living in unapproachable marshes, and he tries to 
render it easier by exciting the tribes to mutual 
jealousies, that they may weaken each other by their 
feuds. Captain Wellsted found the same Sheikh Agyl, 
a few months later, in Baghdad, as guest of the Pacha. 
A handsomely furnished palace was assigned to him as 
his abode. He did not occupy the interior, but in true 
Arab fashion, pitched his tent on the flat roof. His 
followers, however, took possession of the purple velvet 
divans embroidered with pearls, cooked their food on 
the marble floors, and broke the costly mirrors, that 
each might take a piece away with him. They even 
allowed sheep and goats to run about in the splendid 
rooms. Agyl had with him a retinue of no less than 
4,000 men. An equal number of the Jerboah tribe 
soon came to the city. They encountered each other 

288 Syria and British Burmah. 

in the cafes and bazaars, and quarrels ensued, which 
turned the streets into a battle field. This gave rise to 
a feud between the tribes, and they fought till their 
forces were exhausted. The Pacha could then bring 
his contumacious vassals into subjection again. 

On our arrival at Sheikh-el- Schuyukh, a salute was 
fired in honour of the Sheikh, and friendly intercourse 
opened with him. He soon furnished us with the wood 
we required, so that we were able to go on early next 

The tide reaches to this point, and caused a strong 
counter current, which impeded progress ; but we 
reached Kurnah successfully. At this important place 
the Tigris and Euphrates meet, and the two rivers take 
the name of Schat-el-Arab, till they flow into the sea 
below Basrah. 

Kurnah is almost hidden among date palms, so that 
onlv the roofs of a few huts were to be seen. These 
trees begin to attain their highest perfection here, and 
form thick woods ; their fruit is in great request as an 
article of trade, and is very profitable to the inhabitants. 
Thev are, however, not so much used here as food as 
in Arabia ; it is said to be unwholesome to eat many of 

I was delighted with these slender trees with their 
wavinoc green cupolas, and could imagine nothing more 
beautiful. And yet they dwindle into insignificance 
compared with their tropical sisters, the cocoa-nut 
palms. It is only in the tropics that the palm is seen 
in all its glory. 

A Turkish vessel was lying at anchor here, and we 

With the English Eicphrates Expedition. 289 

gave her the usual sakite ; but she was so ill equipped 
that she was unable to return it, a symptom of the 
fallen estate of the Turkish empire. 

In default of sufficient fuel, though empty boxes 
and every bit of spare wood was burnt, we could only 
make the distance to Basrah, forty-five Enghsh miles, at 
half speed. But, slow as the manifold obstacles had 
rendered our course in the upper part of the river, the 
rapid current of the united streams now bore us swiftly 
on to our destination, too swiftly, indeed, to allow us 
more than a hasty glimpse of the scenery. 

So we only saw from a distance the very ancient 
ruins which abound here ; among them, some which 
equal Birs Nimrod in vastness and antiquity. One of 
these is the tower of Magyar, rising to a height of 200 
feet, out of an immense mound of ruins, on the former 
bed of the Pallacopas. The Pallacopas was one of 
those broad and deep canals, which intersected the 
country in all directions, turning rivers into new 
channels, feeding lakes, fertilising deserts, and floating 
fleets of ships. These magnificent canals still excite 
astonishment now that they are turned into swamps. 
They furnish still stronger evidence of the once 
numerous population of these lands, and the extent 
of their civihsation, than the vast ruins of colossal 

Early in the morning of June 18, our steamer 
cast anchor in the roadstead of Basrah. The problem 
of the possibihty of the navigation of the Euphrates 
by steam was solved, the end attained We had at 
length, after a struggle of three months with obstacles 

VOL. I. U 

290 Syria and British Burfnak. 

and privations of every kind, happily completed a voy- 
age of 1,500 miles on an untried river, whose shores 
were peopled with savage races of men. How could 
we but rejoice ! We congratulated each other on having 
lived to see this day, and mournfully thought of the 
companions we had lost. 

The day was celebrated by unfurling the royal 
standard, and the number of guns fired corresponded 
with the years of King William lY. of Great Britain. 

The whole population of Basrah, merchants of all 
nations among them, flocked to the landing place, to 
assure themselves with their own eyes of the arrival of 
the steamer. Even the admiral of a Turkish man-of- 
war, lying at anchor, and M. Fontanier, the French 
consul, came to offer their congratulations, and openly 
confessed, that, for numerous reasons, they had con- 
sidered the scheme absolutely impracticable. 

Meanwhile, the joy at the success of the Expedition, 
to which all on board freely gave themselves up, was 
not unmixed with sorrow to Heifer and me. We had 
to part with friends, who had become endeared to us, 
whose guests we had been for nine months ; they had 
honestly shared good and evil fortune with us ; by the 
most delicate consideration they had lessened the dis- 
comforts of living in the confined space of shipboard 
for me, and, altogether, they had always maintained the 
fine tact of gentlemen, and had fully justified the con- 
fidence with which Heifer and I had joined their party 
by the truly brotherly kindness and attention with 
which they had treated us. I have pleasure in here 
offering to the survivors, after this long lapse of time, 
my sincere acknowledgments and heartfelt thanks. 

Witk the English Eicphi^ates Expedition. 291 

lu tlie roads, the brig George Bentinck^ an English 
merchant vessel, bound for Calcutta, with a cargo of 
horses, was lying. She was just about to sail, and was 
to call at Bushire, in Persia, our next destination, to 
take in more horses. The kind offer of the Captain to 
take us as passengers was the more welcome, as it is 
but rarely that English vessels cross the Persian Gulf. 

There was no time for sad thoughts and feehnors. 
With a shake of the hand, and a laconic ' Good bye,' 
which, with the monosyllabic English, expresses all that 
other nations use many words for, we took leave of our 
comrades, and went on board the George Bentinck. 

Wind and tide were in our favour, and land soon 
disappeared from view. The heat, however, rose to 
such a degree as I have never felt before nor since, 
not even beneath the rays of a tropical sun. This 
makes the chmate of the Persian Gulf most dangerous 
to Europeans, At this season the sun's rays are 
reflected, with double force, from the abrupt and lofty 
walls of rock which surround it ; they heat the water 
and turn its surface into steam, so that the atmosphere 
is like a vapour bath. You sigh in vain for a cooling 
douche. I sank into an almost unconscious state, and 
was only kept up by having sea water frequently thrown 
over me, and inhaling acids. I could not walk from 
the cabin to the deck, and had to be Hfted throus^h the 
skylight wrapped up in a sheet. Happily, the voyage 
only lasted forty- eight hoars. He who gets through it 
without illness is congratulated, and is considered to be 
steeled ao^ainst any other climate. 

We ran into the harbour of Bushire, landed at once, 

u 2 

292 Syi'ia and British Bttrmah. 

and went to the house of the English Eesident. On 
the way, which led through a densely peopled part of 
the town, I had most unpleasant experience of the 
fanatical rigour with which the Shut es insist on the 
absolute seclusion of women. I was recognised as a 
woman by some of the passers by, and a crowd soon 
collected, who grossly insulted and even threatened to 
stone us. Fortunately, we were followed by the 
captain and some of the crew on foot, and under their 
protection we reached the consulate. 

This w^as the first time on our journey, and after a 
year's residence in Mohammedan countries, that I had 
been insulted as a woman. Under the painful im- 
pression of it, the Persians, with their long, lean figures 
and stooping attitude, clad in caftans down to their 
ankles, and with tall pointed caps of black lambskin on 
their heads, appeared to me very ugly, though really 
they cannot be called so, for they have aquiline noses, 
and much brighter complexions than the Arabs. 

Apprised of our coming and our intentions, the 
Eesident, Captain Hennell^ received us most kindly. 
In these remote stations, seldom visited by Europeans, 
travellers are very welcome to the Eesidents, cut off as 
they are from the civilised world. Although we were 
not English, he regarded us as being so, since we had 
made the arduous Euphrates Expedition in his country- 
men's company, and we w^ere hospitably entertained 
in his comfortable abode. The navigation of the 
Euphrates was of great importance to Captain Hennell, 
as, if regularly carried on, it promised to make Bushire 
a staple place of commerce Our communications on 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 293 

tlie subject therefore greatly interested him, and formed 
the chief topic of our conversation. 

' In return for your information,' he said, one day, 
'I can give you some that will interest you, and be a 
sort of satisfaction to you. Those Affghan princes, 
as they called themselves, who have so shamefully 
deceived you, have been at Bushire, but they did not 
show themselves to me ; they went to Bombay and up 
the Indus on their way to their home on the Upper 
Ganges, of course without the least suspicion that 
w^arrants were issued to arrest them. Shortly after 
they reached Lucknow the warrant arrived. They had 
again played their part well as Asiatic princes, and 
succeeded in interesting our Eesident there on their be- 
half, so that he executed the Avarrant with reluctance, 
and felt convinced that there was some mistake. This 
part of the story,' added Captain Hennell, ' will be most 
satisfactory to you, as it is calculated to lessen the mor- 
tification which few people can avoid feeling at having 
been taken in ; for if such a practised " Tiger " (a nick- 
name for an Englishman who has grown old in India), 
as our Eesident at Lucknow, was deceived by them, you 
need not blush to have been their victims.' 

' But who then are these extraordinary people ? ' 
we eagerly asked, and received the following account 
of them. 

They were the sons of a European indigo planter, 
and an Indian woman of one of the higher castes, in 
the district of the Upper Ganges ; they received a good 
education, but early showed a tendency to extrava- 
gance and roguery. At last they played a shameful 

294. Syria and B^Htish Bur^nah. 

trick on their father and one of his business friends. 
They had been entrusted by the former with a chest of 
gold coins for a banking house in Calcutta ; they broke 
it open, took possession of the money, filled it with 
stones of equal weight, and sealed it with their father's 
seal, which they had surreptitiously got possession of. 
The banker suspected nothing, and gave them a receipt 
for the money. When he discovered the fraud, the 
thieves were on their way to Europe. For a long time, 
all trace of them was lost, as they assumed various 
names. But at last it was discovered that they were 
on their way back to Asia, and, having got through 
their money, were going home . Measures were taken 
for their arrest, and as soon as they were on the soil of 
India they were taken prisoners. 

Thus vanished the last faint nimbus which had 
surrounded our hypocritical friends in our eyes ; they 
were unmasked as vulgar impostors, and we were the 
richer by some dearly bought experience. 

I have always been interested in observing the 
various methods by which people protect their dwell- 
ings from heat and cold in different climates. While 
in Baghdad they live half underground for the sake of 
coolness, I found that in Bushire, in order to catch the 
sea oreezes, there are square towers, in the centre of 
the houses, from the basement to a good way above 
the flat roof, with small openings in each story, by 
which means a strong, cool current of air is maintained 
throughout the house. It produces a sensible coolness, 
and often. obliges you to put on more clothing. Violent 
gales are not uncommon here. During the very first 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 295 

night, which here, as at Baghdad, we spent on the roof, 
such a storm arose that the hght, wooden partitions 
were torn down, and coverlets and articles of clothing 
were whirled about, so that we were glad to beat a 
hasty retreat down the little staircase into the dressing 
rooms, where there were safer couches for those driven 
from the roof. 

Our Captain, having more horses to ship, had to stay 
a week at Bushire. Helfer made entomological excur- 
sions. I wanted one day to beguile the time by draw- 
ing, and to take a sketch of the neighbourhood as a 
remembrance. In spite of warnings not to go out 
alone, finding that the gate, which was generally closed, 
had been accidentally left open, I ventured out and, 
choosing an elevated spot whence there was an extensive 
view, began my sketch. As it was close by the con- 
sulate I thought myself quite safe. 

Engrossed in my work I did not observe that the 
space between the Eesidence and the beach was thronged 
with people, until wild yells reached my ears, and look- 
ing up I saw a crowd of men coming towards me, with 
angry and threatening looks. Terribly frightened, I 
rose up, and ran to the edge of the cliff. My situation 
was desperate ; it appeared as if I must either jump 
into the sea, or be stoned by the enraged multitude. 
Just when the danger was at the worst, a number of 
the consular police came to my aid, and drove the 
rufiians away with loud cracks of their whips. ' I was 
saved, but all my pulses throbbed, and my heart beat 
audibly for a long time. 

When the incident was discussed at dinner time. 

296 Syria and British B term ah. 

Captain Hennell said to me : ' You have had a specimen 
to-day of the dangers to which a European lady is 
exposed in this country.' And, turning to Heifer, he 
continued: 'I have refrained before from giving you 
my opinion about your idea of making some stay in 
Persia, but I take this opportunity of strongly advising 
you against it.' He then drew such a repulsive picture 
of the hatred of foreigners by the populace, and of 
the perfidious, and quarrelsome character of the higher 
classes, that it dispelled all my illusions, and even Shiraz 
with its fragrant rose gardens lost its attractions. 

Heifer also was convinced that under these circum- 
stances his plan of settling as a physician in a Persian 
town was impracticable. It was definitively given up. 
Whither then should we turn our steps ? We considered 
every alternative without coming to any decision. 

In the meantime, Captain Eales, of the George 
Bentinck, came in, and, hearing of our dilemma, pro- 
posed to us to go on with him, and make Calcutta our 
next station. 

Calcutta, the star of the East, the city which the 
concurrence of European and Asiatic luxury has made 
the dearest in the world, had never, in view of our 
limited resources, entered into Heifer's calculations. 
How could he reckon upon lucrative practice among 
the English, who have no confidence in any doctors but 
their own ? And what prospect did it afibrd him for 
the prosecution of his special objects in travelling? 
These were important considerations, and weighed 
heavily in the scale. On the other hand, we recurred 
to the pleasant time we had spent in the society of the 

With the English Euphrates Expedition. 297 

English officers, and to the confidence with which their 
conduct had inspired us, so that the idea of again pass- 
ing some time with their countrymen, and under their 
protection, became more and more attractive, and finally 
gained the day. Trusting to the good genius which 
had hitherto guided and watched over us, we agreed to 
Captain Eales's proposal. 

The day before sailing we had the joyful surprise of 
seeing the Euphrates run into the harbour of Bushire. 
Colonel Chesney, not finding the means of refitting the 
steamer at Basrah, had risked the sea voyage in her, 
though she was constructed only for river navigation, 
and it was said by seafaring men to be madness. But 
it succeeded, as many things do succeed with the 
courageous which are never achieved by the faint- 
hearted. Great was the pleasure of this unexpected 
meeting. We told our friends of our intentions, which 
met their cordial approval. 

The next morning the last farewells were spoken, 
and we embarked, on board the George Bentinck,. for 








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